COLERAINE Pet Shop celebrates its 50th anniversary this week. Proprietor Norman McCracken and ‘Paddy’ the macaw parrot are two of the best known faces in Coleraine town centre.
Located just off the Diamond, Coleraine Pet Shop is a treasure trove of pets and accessories.
A big favourite with people of all ages, visitors to the shop are able to interact with the vast array of animals on display.
Norman says that a visit to his shop is a weekly tradition for many families who stop off as part of their ‘going down town’ experience.
Animal lover Norman took over the Stone Row shop 18 years ago. Before that he worked for the USPCA as a shelter manager.
Norman says that working with animals is not just a day job for him - it’s a hobby.
Despite difficult trading times Norman aims to give pet owners what they want, whilst making the welfare of the animals number one priority.
As parrot specialists, Norman says that people come from across Northern Ireland to view and buy his parrots and accessories.
Paddy, is of course, a huge draw, and as Norman admits he’s very much part of the shop fixtures and fittings.
“’Paddy’ is 14 next month, he’s seen a lot of changes down through the years,” Norman reveals.
“I got Paddy when he was just ten weeks old.
“He’s grown a lot since then and has learned some bad habits but he’s part of the furniture here now.
“People are so generous, he gets regular visitors with seeds and nuts, he’s a spoilt boy.”
Red and black sinaloan milk snake - otherwise known as Ruud Van Nistelroy is another popular attraction.
Norman was given the snake some time ago by a Coleraine man who was unable to look after him.
Ruud is now a permanent resident and is part of the ‘travelling pet shop’ for church and school visits by Norman and his dedicated staff.
With a good mix of other pets and a wide variety of food, one of the more unusual attractions are the water monsters.
To give them their proper names they are called Axolotyl, a native Mexican exotic fish, they look almost alien like.
Norman explained: “We’ve had them in now for about a month.
“They are proving to be a bit of a spectacle, they’re strange looking wee creatures.”
Thanking the people of Coleraine and the surrounding area for their support, Norman said: “I just want to thank everyone for their support over the years.
“Believe it or not, I’ve had customers who have been with me since I took the shop over.
“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the folks of the Triangle for their on-going support which as enabled us not just to survive - but thrive through these recessionary times.
“My staff and I enjoy providing a personal service for our customers, people come in just for advice, and I think that’s what the shop is all about, we also pride ourselves on our competitive pricing.”
Norman added: “We have a great after sales service, transactions in store don’t at the till drawer.”
* To celebrate the anniverary Norman is holding a special anniversary discount day this Saturday, May 25. All customers will receive 20 percent off purchases.