North Adams pet store will close at end of month

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NORTH ADAMS — A beloved pet store and mainstay of downtown retail is closing its doors.

Bark N' Cat owner Christa Abel announced to customers last month that, after more than a decade of operation, she would look to sell the Holden Street business and begin sharply discounting its inventory.

"It's been really great for me to have been part of the downtown and business community," Abel told The Eagle on Tuesday. "I've met tons of awesome people and really evolved into being a local, as opposed to a transplant. I also have had such supportive customers and have had so many well-wishes."

The final day is expected to be March 30, but could be sooner if the store runs out of inventory.

Abel began providing pet services when she moved to North Adams, starting with the pet-sitting business Petminders. In 2007, Abel launched a retail operation within Persnickety Toys on Eagle Street. Four years later, Bark N' Cat opened on Holden Street, where it has operated ever since.

Abel said her love for her own dogs and cats sparked her interest in launching a retail operation.

"I decided to explore retail, as there were limited options at the time in this area," she said.

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But competing with major retailers, both physical and online, is a challenge.

"I wasn't certain how to make the shop prosper, with the explosion of online [retailers] and discounters and mass market in the mix now, so when a job opportunity that I was interested in presented [itself], I jumped on that," Abel said.

She will soon start a new gig at the Berkshire Medical Center's Advocacy for Access.

"I feel bad disappointing folks, but I'm turning 50 and have to start thinking about retirement," Abel said. "I'll miss seeing my customers, many who have become friends, as well as their dogs."

The business was also active in the community, particularly in organizing the annual Humane Race to benefit the Berkshire Humane Society, where Abel will remain a board member. This year's event, scheduled for April 27, is still on.

"All my dog- and cat-loving customers and friends can continue to support the spirit of Bark N' Cat and the Berkshire Humane Society [at the event]," Abel said.

Bark N' Groom, the grooming service tucked inside Bark N' Cat, will be moving to a new location in Adams.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.


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