Happy Petaversary

Blue Fin Pet Shop Celebrates 35th Anniversary

Sylvia and Dan Magara are pictured with their “store greeters” Lotto and Buddy. The Magaras have owned and operated Blue Fin Pet Shop, 17 Main St., Falconer, for 35 years. A special event will be held Saturday to mark the occasion. P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti

FALCONER — For three and a half decades, visitors to Blue Fin Pet Shop have been warmly welcomed by Dan and Sylvia Magara, along with a pair of canine “store greeters.”

Now, three months after the Magaras faced the very real fear that their shop would be lost forever, the couple are celebrating the Blue Fin’s 35th anniversary as a downtown Falconer fixture.

Blue Fin was opened in 1982 by the Magaras, who have since co-owned and operated the business themselves at its current location at 17 Main St. in Falconer. Originally, the business occupied only a fraction of the space that it currently inhabits, initially housing 18 fish tanks before a 1992 expansion that saw an increase in floor space and 80 additional fish tanks.

According to Sylvia Magara, the business has been blessed with a loyal customer base that has come to resemble a tight-knit family over time.

“We like to work one-on-one with our customers, and one of the greatest things about being here so long is all of the stories we’ve heard,” she said. “Time seems to slip away, but overall it’s been nice to help people with their pets and hear their stories and grow old together. When people ask me what’s changed most through the years I always tell them ‘the size of the bucket.’ We can’t really carry the big heavy buckets of water like we used to.”

“I can guarantee there won’t be another 35 (years),” Dan Magara laughed. “We’re planning to retire in about six years, so we’ll hopefully be able to have a 40th anniversary before we lock our doors.”

On March 22, Blue Fin Pet Shop was in serious danger of being closed for good after an intentionally-set fire ripped through the building complex adjacent to the store. Eight other buildings and businesses were damaged or destroyed, leaving a good portion of the spaces unsalvageable and later demolished.

As the Magaras watched the chaos ensue from across the street after getting whatever inventory they could out of the store, they thought for sure that they were about to lose their business. Luckily, the fire was extinguished before Blue Fin Pet Shop was damaged, and the store re-opened for business the following day.

In addition to the Magaras, Blue Fin has also been the residence of the couple’s African grey parrot Rocky, who has been with the business since it began, as well as a pair of dogs to greet customers. On their third generation of resident furry friends, the Magaras now bring their dogs Lotto and Buddy to the store with them on a daily basis.

In 2009, Blue Fin also began buying gold and silver to supplement some of their income after Sylvia was involved in an accident in late 2008.

“We’ve always been buyers of gold and silver, but we really started promoting that in 2009; and now we’re one of the largest buyers in our area,” Dan Magara said. “We buy anything from sterling silver spoons to wedding bands, coins and currency, and we bend over backwards to help people with that and give them the best price we can. And that’s something that we really enjoy doing.”

In recognition of their 35th anniversary with Blue Fin, the Magaras will hold a special celebration event on Saturday during regular business hours. There will be several giveaways and a number of 50/50 drawings throughout the day, with half of the 50/50 proceeds to benefit the Chautauqua County Humane Society. Items to be given away during the event include fish tanks, pet food and various dog toys and other items.

Blue Fin Pet Shop is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

For more information on the pet shop and its 35th anniversary celebration, call 665-3522, find the store on Facebook or stop in at 17 W. Main St. in Falconer.