By Kylie Perry Granddaughter of Kitty Collins
Forty-one years ago, a man named Mel Kaylor opened 49er Feed and Seed in Cotati. My grandmother soon became manager of this establishment. In 1992, the pet store was relocated and named 49er Pet. Kaylor sold 49er Pet to my grandparents, who have always had a love for animals. My grandma embraced this new chapter in her life with everything she had, living out her dream. She put her whole heart into this store. With my aunt by her side, they made a great team in running 49er Pet. Over the years, my aunt, my mom, my uncle, my cousins and I have all worked there, some much longer than others. It became our family store and I was raised up in it, as both people and pets came and went. I cherished all of the pets as my own and even mourned a few. As time goes on, things change and there is an end to every story. I’d like to believe 49er had a happy ending. Although it is heart wrenching to see it go, the memories will always be there.
49er Pet holds many of my childhood memories that I will never forget. I will never forget being able to bring in some of the pet shop’s animals in first grade for show and tell and having the coolest thing to show. I will never forget my best friend Oscar who I would visit a couple times a week to pet and hold in the store aviary. He would land on my head and nibble on my fingers and I would feel so cool because no one else was allowed in. I will never forget going to Sacramento with my grandparents to pick up the store’s second mascot bunny, Winston, after Buster had died. I will never forget going to the back of the store with my brother as he tried to get the goldfish for his snake, and I would try to talk him out of it. I will never forget going there every Monday over summer with my brother and grandma, but first picking up a pastry at the nearby bakery. I will never forget on those same Mondays, doing the banking for the store with my brother and grandpa, and listening to the funny jokes my grandpa would tell. I will never forget the next summer working there and getting paid every Monday just for dusting off the shelves. I will never forget Tortellini, the tortoise, who I would always visit and feed, and viewed him as my own. I will never forget going up to my aunt’s office to visit her with my mom while they had deep conversations. I will never forget seeing my cousin there for the last time, three years ago, before he left. I will never forget the feeling I would get every time I walked into that store. It was a home away from home. It was truly a family store.
As my grandma retires and we approach the end of an era, all of the memories come flooding in, from the good ones, to the sad ones. My whole family has grown up in this store, and although its time has come to an end, it has left a lasting impact on all of us and has opened my eyes to the fact that everything on Earth is temporary. It is more about the stores impact on us, than it is about our impact on the store.