He’s seen it all in his 45 years from escaped snakes to Ninja Turtle mania – now pet shop owner Brian Meek has cleaned out cages for the final time.
According to a tribute in the Sunderland Echo, ‘the 78-year-old has one of the longest-running pet shops in the city and has been a familiar, friendly face on St Luke’s Terrace, Pallion, for more than 40 years’.
Over the decades he has sold thousands of birds, reptiles, guinea pigs and more, which have become beloved pets – and this week the community rallied round to bid him farewell as he hands the keys over to a new owner. A surprise party was held at All Pets of Pallion to celebrate Brian’s 45 years in the pet trade.
Brian, who lives in Tunstall with wife Pat, 76, has seen many trends come and go over the years, including a boost in reptile sales due to films such as Jurassic Park and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but says his passion for pets has never changed.
He told the Echo: “I’ve always loved pets and I’ve made that many friends through the pet trade that I think of them more as friends, than customers. People who came here as children now come in with their children.”
Brian’s first shop was Wearside Aquatics, which he opened in Grangetown in 1975, opening his Pallion shop a few years later.
He says that, although the local retail scene has changed, with takeaways replacing some of the shops, customers are ‘still so friendly’.
“Sometimes they don’t come in to buy pets, they just want some advice, but I’m always happy to help them,” he said.
Brian also recalled a man from a chain store that had a pet section saying he would put him out of business some years ago – but it never happened!
He has had offers to sell the building over the years for other ventures, but told the Echo he was determined to sell it as a pet shop. The new owner plans to retain the name.
Brian said: “It’s been emotional today, I don’t think I’ll believe it until I lock the door for the final time. But I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family.”
His daughter, Dianne, who used to work in the shop on Saturdays, said: “We’d just like to say thank you to all the customers over the years for their support.”