How long has the pet store been here?

“It’s been a Pet Works over 10 years.”

When and how you first get involved?

“When the owner was looking to buy the business from the previous owner, I was working for them at their Longview location at that time. I was one of the few who weren’t nailed down and could come down here and run it for them.”

How long have you been at the store?

“The entirety of it being The Pet Works, so 10 plus years.”

When did it officially become The Pet Works?

“November 2008.”

How many pets do you have in the store?

“There’s more than 1,000 different fish. Add rodents, reptiles and birds onto that you’re probably looking at 1,200 animals.”

More than 1,200 pets

The Pet Works in Astoria covers more than 5,000 square feet and has more than 1,200 pets including fish, reptiles, rodents and birds.

Has the variety of pets changed over the years?

“Not particularly. Some stuff is seasonal and some is local availability.”

Which pets are seasonal?

“A lot of the fish are going to be seasonal because many are still wild caught. When it’s summer time in the northern hemisphere, in South America it’s wintertime, so it’s harder to collect during certain seasons.”

Tropical fish

The Pet Works in Astoria has more than 1,000 different varieties of fish.

What sorts of places do they come from?

“We get Indonesia stuff. We get a lot out of Columbia. They come from all over the world. Wholesalers and farmers are all over.”

Do you carry anything that distinguishes you from other pet stores?

“The quality of our livestock sets us apart. There are some species that aren’t as common compared to bigger box stores. I tend to carry a lot of corydoras (a freshwater catfish) and some of your stranger rasboras. It just depends on what I think will sell for the price it costs to get them in.”

Grizzly, the rat mascot

The Pet Works employee Christal Kumpuk took a stroll through the store with ‘Grizzly,’ a large breeder rat that has become an unofficial mascot for the business.

What do you sell the most of?

“Dog-related items. Everybody has a dog, so we sell lots of food and treats. About 60 percent of our business is dog related.”

Is there anything that seems to be emerging in popularity?

“Not particularly. We’ve seen the tapering off of birds. I don’t have a lot of big bird customers. Dog stuff seems to hold true. Aquatics tends to be seasonal, usually from April through October.”

Parakeets

Birds such as the parakeets, pictured, have become less popular as pets.

Have you witnessed any pet trends come and go?

“There’s all kinds of gimmicky things that happen, from different clothing options to different vitamins and supplements. The CBD stuff seems to be on the rise these days. There’s even people getting into strange oils and mushrooms.”

Do you carry CBD products for pets?

“Yes, we’ve got oils, capsules and treats.”

What would you consider the most underrated pet?

“For children we find that people often have a predisposition toward rats as pets. They actually make really good pets. You don’t have a long-term commitment like a turtle or a lizard, they’re pretty social and they can be maintained in reasonable-sized space. Most people who say they can’t have a rat just don’t like looking at their tail, but quite frankly you can get over that — it’s pretty easy.”

Rats are underrated

Social and relatively short lived, rats are among the most underrated pets, according to Thompson.

What makes a bad first pet?

“Turtles. A lot of times kids, generally between the ages of 7 and 14, want a turtle but they’re not prepared to commit to a 40-plus year pet. We try to keep our customers informed and make sure the parents know what they’re getting into.”

How long will pet rats typically live?

“Typically three to four years.”

What’s the most common misconception you encounter about pets?

“The biggest misconception is the overall cost of things. For instance, a reptile like a bearded dragon lizard, for an enclosure to keep them in their entire life comfortably, you can spend around $400 to get all the stuff you need and not have to do upgrades later. It’s front-end expense. Compare that to a dog, where your expense in the front end may not be all that high, but when you start adding on vet bills, food, grooming, etc., the amount of money you invest in a dog or cat can be considerably different compared to reptiles or fish. A lot of your expense will be on the front end but after that it’s much easier to maintain them.”

Reptiles as pets

Cost is a common misconception regarding pet ownership. Some pets, like reptiles, require more upfront costs but can be less expensive overall compared to dogs and cats, which require more investment later in life.

Which pets require the most care?

“Dogs and cats, quite frankly. The shedding, the grooming, just keeping up with the daily maintenance…. Compare that to an aquarium or a reptile, where you just don’t have to do daily types of things. You can ignore your fish for a day in most cases and the same thing with reptiles, which are cold blooded and pretty laid back.”

Do you have any pets?

“I don’t. Mainly because it’s a don’t take your work home with you kind of thing. But all of my employees do have a pet — most of them haven’t been here long enough to know better (Ha-ha).”

Self-service dog wash

The Pet Works in Astoria has a self-service dog wash.

What part do you enjoy the most?

“The people. Ninety-eight percent are easy going and passionate about the critter that’s part of their family. That’s the fun part. All the cleaning and maintenance is just what we do in between helping people.”

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