BENNINGTON -- It has been 21 years since Michael O'Malley opened his pet supply store on River Street, but at the end of the month it will close for good.
O'Malley's Pet Supplies was on River Street for about four years before it moved to its current location at 108 Gage St. O'Malley said he runs the store by himself with some help from Fergus, a German short-haired pointer who for 11 years has greeted customers and their pets, and been the store's official tester of treats and toys.
"I always wanted to open my own business," O'Malley said. "I've always had dogs and cats, and enjoyed them as companions."
The economy and competition from larger stores and online services have made things tough, he said in an interview Friday.
"Since 2008, sales slowly declined, utilities increased, and I made the decision that it wasn't financially feasible to stay open," O'Malley said.
He has been mulling this decision for some time, but said now was the time to commit.
"Overall the 21 years, I've had a very good experience. I've appreciated all my customers. It's been gratifying to build up their trust over the years," he said.
The store has specialized in selling natural products and over the years people have come to ask him for advice on what types of food, treats, and products to buy for their pets, be they dogs, cats, birds, or fish.
"I will miss all the wonderful aspects of this business," he said.
Lynne Chapman, who has bought pet supplies at O'Malley's for about 15 years, said the closure came as a shock. O'Malley recommended she go to Handsome Hound Mobile Pet Grooming on Harwood Hill for an item she needed that she had been getting from him.
O'Malley said after the business closes on July 31 he plans to look for work in the Bennington area.
The 2,500 square foot building is owned by The Pharmacy next door on North Street.
"It is very unfortunate that O'Malley's is closing," said Pharmacy owner Philip J. O'Neill in a statement. "It has been a stable business for many years. I am sad to see it close."
He said The Pharmacy purchased property on Gage Street last year because it is expanding, but with O'Malley leaving it will use that building to facilitate those plans instead.
O'Malley's Pet Supplies is the second business this week to announce it is closing.
Greenberg's Lumber Yard, a hardware store that's been on Main Street for 65 years, said it would not be open after September 1.
Sources have said it's closing because the owners of the business and owns of the land could not reach an agreement.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.