Animal lovers in the North Hills typically go to one of three stores when it comes time to pick up some new fish, grab a toy for their cat, or have their dog groomed. For those north of Siebert Road, the most logical choices are PetSmart at Northway or Burton’s in McIntyre Square. South of Siebert is Petco , a fixture at North Hills Village. All three are national chains known for their big box layout and wide array of products.
It’s easy to argue over which one of these stores is the best in the North Hills, yet there was almost no contest years ago when it came time to pick the best pet store (note the term “pet store”, not “aquarium shop”--they are two different entities altogether since the former caters to all animals while the latter is exclusively for fish and other marine animals).
After the demise of a theater in West View, Tiny’s Pet Place set up shop in the former space, located at 442 Perry Highway. Although it didn’t have the square footage of PetSmart or Petco, it was a powerhouse pet center and was well-known throughout the community as a place for top-notch service and incredible variety of items for sale.
Let’s take a tour of Tiny’s, starting on the left side of the store. Three aisles of fish and other small animals await. While there are no saltwater species, the amount of freshwater fish is breathtaking, rivaling the renowned Seahorse in Hampton Township. In the rear is an area devoted to dog grooming. (The grooming business lives on in the form of Nancy’s Grooming Salon, just a few blocks south at Horseshoe Bend. Nancy was a groomer at Tiny’s before opening her own shop).
The right side of the store, slightly lower in elevation than its counterpart, has just about anything else you could ask for. A new parakeet? Check. Dog toys? Check. Kitty litter? Check. Hermit crab food? Check. Any questions? Well, just ask one of the friendly salespeople, who seem to have an encyclopedic knowledge of every animal in the book, whether it be every species of freshwater fish or just about every reptile suitable for a typical domicile.
Unfortunately, this store closed in 2000. It’s not possible to blame the big boxes for this, as it was simply a decision to close Tiny’s after years of hard work went into the store. The closure caught a lot of people off guard, yet this did prove to be a sad occasion for quite a few folks who had come to rely on the expertise of the wonderful employees of Tiny’s. They were honest, didn’t push unnecessary products, and even had an easy-to-follow guarantee on fish, which died within a week of purchase.
It was sad to see this little shop bid adieu. Perrytowne Aquarium remained a great place to get fish for several years while Nancy’s Grooming Salon continues to thrive, but nothing aside from Seahorse, many miles away in Hampton, has come close to matching the old-fashioned service and expertise found at a store like Tiny’s.
NEXT TIME: We venture outside of our typical area to spend a night at Buskey’s Motel, a Hampton Township landmark.