After fifty years of business, independent pet store Belco Pets inBelconnen, ACT, is sadly shutting down.

Owner Alexis Kilby-Luhrs worked at Belco Pets for ten years prior topurchasing it with her husband Drew 22 years ago, where it has since been astaple of the local community.

Kilby-Luhrs said the decision to close was a tough one, but due to thedifficulties associated with Covid, including rude customers and lack ofgovernment support and communication, it is the right one for their health.

“It’s too hard and too exhausting trying to be responsible, trying to keepeverybody safe, trying to keep up to date with the changing rules. It’s justan emotional rollercoaster.”

During the pandemic, Kilby-Luhrs and her staff worked incredibly hard adaptingto the ever-changing regulations from setting up a table out the front of thestore when lockdown hit, to serving customers from behind a sneeze screen whenrestrictions allowed customers back in store.

While 95 per cent of customers were understanding, Kilby-Luhrs said there wasthat five per cent that acted entitled and rude.

“It’s really hard for people working in retail to do things like ask people towear a mask, ask people if they were double vaccinated, because you just don’tknow the way people react to those situations.”

The ACT and Federal Government’s offer financial support to small businessesbut Kilby-Luhrs said it is just too difficult to do all the paperwork whileyou’re trying to run a business and working 16-hour days.

In the end, it wasn’t the financials that forced Belco Pets to close, but themental health of Kilby-Luhrs and her husband.

“It wasn’t that we were after money because we were doing okay. We were payingour staff and we were paying our rent because we didn’t have to close. We wereone of the lucky businesses that was able to keep trading.

“It’s not so much financial for us. It’s been the physical and mental stuff.That’s just been really difficult.”

Kilby-Luhrs thanked the local community for its support over the years andurged people to be kind to others, especially those working in retail andcustomer service.

“Be kind to people in retail. Think about why people are doing what they’redoing and how they turn up to work every day and provide a service so thatothers can get their essentials.”

Kilby-Luhrs has been attempting to sell Belco Pets, they unfortunately haven’tbeen able to find a buyer, something the couple are sad about.

“We’re just sorry that can’t hand over Belco Pets to somebody else to continueto provide the service that the community has got over the years.”

While, moving on from Belco Pets will be difficult, Kilby-Luhrs is in theprocess of setting up a new business, Amuze The Mob, in which she hopes towork as an animal enrichment coach, helping people build relationships withtheir pets.

“I’ll be teaching people how to bond with their pets, how to actually find agood toy for an animal and step it up for the animals that are stuck insideand build those bonds between people and their pets because it’ll save a lotof behavioural stuff later on.”

Tagged: Belco pets

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