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Pet Hampton To Close After 22 Years

Owner says she can't make the rent and her lease wasn't renewed; Sale underway at the store until she has to leave.

Pet Hampton & Aquarium, which has been located in Wainscott for 22 years, is closing its doors.

The owner, Erika Hegyesi, was emotional on Friday, just hours after the closing signs went up in front of her Montauk Highway store.

She said she had to shutter her business, for several reasons. Her lease was not renewed and she was having difficulty making her $8,000 a month rent for the approximately 5,000-square-foot space. The down economy impacted sales over the past few years, she said, adding that many customers turned to chain stores and online stores for their pets' needs. "I can't survive on crickets and fish," she said.

Hegyesi, who lives in Hampton Bays, said she was upset to have to close after more than two decades in the same space. "I'd like to thank the community for the last 22 years," she said.

She wasn't sure exactly when she would have to leave the building, which is owned by Ben Krupinski. She said she has a court hearing on Monday. She hopes to get at least two weeks more to vacate, particularly because she is trying to sell the contents of the store.

There's plenty left — everything from bowls to dog beds and crates to fish tanks. All merchandise is between 10 and 50 percent off.

Pet Hampton also sells bunnies, birds (such as parakeets), and many different types of fish, and reptiles, like turtles. "They are the ones that need a home," Hegyesi said. Asked what will happen if they close before selling all the animals, she said, "I will find everybody a home."

Pet Hampton & Aquarium is located at 338 Montauk Highway in Wainscott, next to Wainscott Hardware.

Taylor K. Vecsey (Editor) December 09, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Thanks for posting, Erika. Please let us know when you know what your last day will be. Thanks.
Blue Heron December 09, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Thank you for being there, Erika. I'll make sure to bring Nikki Bird in for a kiss and some bird treats!
Jimbo December 09, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Lighten up on Ben! He is a self made man! He has partners he has to satisfy and in this economy they are not happy! Had to sell jets! He does a lot of good deeds throughout the community that he won't take credit for!
bonacbill December 09, 2012 at 11:10 PM
Owner says "many customers turned to online shopping and chain stores"- before we rush to blame Ben maybe every one of us who bought from Petsmart online or shopped at Petco while in Riverhead should accept some of the blame- locals refuse to shop locally and then lament the loss of old East Hampton- if you put your money where your mouth was and shopped loyally and locally, this local 22 year business might not be going under. It has less to do with the rent and more to do with loss of sales. Keep that in mind when you are Christmas shopping- how many of you went to Bridgehampton or Riverhead this week and not to Montauk, Amagansett or EH? And Ben K does more for this community than almost anyone else so think before you throw mud. After you donate an entire $125,000 playground set to your local school or donate your restaurants for charity events then you can complain about Ben.
Karen Fredericks December 09, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Erika, I am so very sorry to hear this news! You've been so wonderful and we've come to your store for almost as long as you've been open! I remember when we needed dog food very late one day & you left a carton tucked behind the store so we could get it even though you'd be closed by the time we got there! You even trusted us to pay you the next day! Your store will be missed! And we were just planning to come in this weekend to ask you to keep an eye out for a very young baby parakeet for us - as a Christmas gift for our "recently widowed" parakeet -- who also originally came from you! We'll also miss wonderful Sandra who gave our parakeet her "pedicures!" And we NEVER shopped for pet supplies online or at Petco in Riverhead. Sad news. For you, for us, for the entire community.
Jimbo December 10, 2012 at 12:49 AM
You just agreed with me in a long winded way! Wag deliveres to my door dog food cheaper than anyone. I used to shoop a Fanning Jewlers, Mark Fore, Brills 5&10, Lou Anne Shop, Marley's, Ben Barns, Baker & Lester, Bohacks, Pauls Men's Shop, Robertson & Zanger, Mrs Epsteins, Diamonds etc etc. Am I going to Tiffany I don't think so!
kseltzer December 10, 2012 at 11:33 AM
point taken about BK and people shopping online... but still i wish there had been a way....
amy salle December 10, 2012 at 02:43 PM
That makes me very sad. I must say, I agree with Viral Grain 100%. It is sad that this town has no more "Mom & Pop" stores. Everything is art galleries and extremely expensive Chain Stores. I remember the days when it was fun to shop in east Hampton and now all the stores caterer to the "Summer Crowd" and close in the winter leaving the stores bare and empty. It is unfortunate that the "Landlord" can not work with the owner of the pet store and is forcing her to close her store. I am sorry and will be in to say goodbye. Good luck to you in your future endeavors.
barbara engel December 11, 2012 at 12:45 AM
I only buy locally; but that doesn't seem to have helped the many stores that have closed in my time. I also used to board my little sun conure here, but not anymore. Very sad. Hopefully, someone will advertise that they will board birds.
Erika Hegyesi December 11, 2012 at 06:23 AM
I would like, once again, to thank everyone who has expressed how much we will be missed, and also everyone who shared tweeted texted called and dragged their family and friends to my store these last few days to help me liquidate everything. Everyone was calm and polite even though the line did get a little long at times... and Im sure parking was no picnic either! My apologies to our new neighbors at the hardware store for hogging the parking lot! As of monday night we will be open on tuesday from 9am till 8 pm for another day of fantastic deals for our loyal fans. I will know more on tuesday and will post any further news on tuesday night. We still have some nice big fish tank set ups available and we are now taking 40% off ALL DOG AND CAT FOODS AND ALL LIVESTOCK, INCLUDING FISH !!!!!!!!!(excluding feeders) ALSO 60% OFF AQUARIUM ORNAMENTS, DOG CARRIERS AND PLUG IN FILTERED/LIGHTED DESKTOP FISHBOWLS AND TANKS. We still have a great selection of these items and they would make nice holiday gifts. Nice big dog carriers as low as 15-20 dollars... I would have liked to see a christmas story too, not so much for myself but for the kids and pets of our community. In my mind Ben will go down as the guy who took christmas away from the kids and pets of East Hampton this year. All I wanted for christmas was.... to make it to christmas... I begged for christmas since traditionally labor day to thanksgiving is my absolute slowest. what a difference 2 weeks could have made.
Erika Hegyesi December 11, 2012 at 06:29 AM
Thank you, I am sad too. We all are.
Erika Hegyesi December 11, 2012 at 06:54 AM
Thank you so much for your kind words. It means more to me than you will ever know.
Erika Hegyesi December 12, 2012 at 12:19 PM
We will be open on wed from 9am till 8pm again. We still have an abundance of dog and cat foods, leashes, collars, dishes, carriers, desktop aquariums, bird toys and cat toys. Livestock is dwindling down nicely, leaving just a couple of birds, rabbits and guinea pigs, but we still have a lot of hamsters and gerbils. My goal is to find all the animals a home, but I may have to donate whatever is left behind, I was told BOCES would take any remaining rodents, and plan to reach out to our local science teachers about amphibians and reptiles. I am open to suggestion if anyone knows of worthy organizations... groups... who may be interested. I will keep posting as to our hours of operation. Thank you everyone.
ViralGrain December 13, 2012 at 06:15 AM
Taylor can you bump this story to the front so people can see it. My heart goes out to the pet store owner. It really has been part of our community for a long time. Kids in the community love the place and many of us have depended on them for our pet needs. They still have a ton of merchandise to move. To the owner -I understand your position as a landlord myself. The property has allot of space to offer. Instead of putting all your eggs in one baskat like you basically did with the pet store, there is more then enough space there for two stores rather then just one. If one store falls behind which they tend to do in the winter, at least you have more rents coming in from different angles and also then you have a tax rite off if that happens. This community loves that store and the owner is well liked and passionate about her business. Maybe a win win situation for the community, her and one that benefits you also would be to split the store in half and let the store stay open. She will do better with a smaller space filled with more items that move more quickly then others. You will now have multiple rents coming in and the community will have the pet store we need. Plus you will be a hero to many. No Bah! Humbug Sir! Tis the season.
Taylor K. Vecsey (Editor) December 13, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Good idea. Just put it back up on the homepage for more to see. Thanks.
Teresa zucco December 13, 2012 at 03:59 PM
It breaks my heart to see the store close. I have had such a attachment to the store since I was it first employee when Walt opened the store back in the 80's. when Erika called me last week and told me she was closing I dropped every thing and went there to help and I will be there till the end heart broken. As we were leaving last night I said to Erika " I hate to say this but I'm having so much fun" it's great to be helping seeing so many old customers and friends shopping for new pets and supplies I love it !! But when it's over ill be crying . My biggest dream it's to have a pet store and this was just as good I thought of it as mine and really it belonged to every one. xoxo
Ann Marie S December 13, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Is the store open the rest of this week? If so what are the hours?
CUL8R December 13, 2012 at 05:53 PM
If landlords didn't have to be so greedy then reasonably priced shops could stay in town & local folks would be more inclined to shop locally...$8000 a month in rent? I understand its a large retail shop - but its not really in a prime retail location! Seems absurd to me...isn't this also why the awesome Pumpernickles Deli also went out of business?!
Erika Hegyesi December 14, 2012 at 02:33 AM
I cant thank you enough, Teresa. I don't know what I would have done without you. Out of many friends who promised me help (other than the employees already on the payroll) you are the one true constant who has shown up every day and worked all day side by side with me....for free... I am forever in your debt. If ever in life you need ANYTHING AT ALL, and I can help... please don't hesitate to call me. Thank You, Erika.
Erika Hegyesi December 14, 2012 at 02:53 AM
hours are 9am till 8pm hopefully we can still have this weekend to finish liquidating. most of the animals are gone, except for a bunch of hamsters and gerbils, a few guinea pigs and a breeding pair of chinchillas. Otherwise, there is still some dog and cat foods left... mostly small bags. Lots of cat toys, desktop tanks, aquarium ornaments, dog and cat carriers, great prices... please share and tell your friends. thank you everione.
Beth thompson December 14, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Erika first of all I want to say I'm sad to see this is happen. When I first got the job working for you i was thrilled. I was so happy. I learned so much the four years I was there. Pet Hampton will never be forgotten.
Erika Hegyesi December 14, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Thank you , Beth. As were all the teenagers I had working over the years, you were a joy to have... even though some of you may have had a little TOO much fun at times!! I also learned from you and had a great time. I wish you were around for the earlier days with the ping pong tournaments, you would have made a great addition then too.
Essie December 14, 2012 at 07:12 PM
So sad...any way to open up somewhere else out here and get out of that building? We NEED a pet store here, especially one that sell fish and fish supplies! No one elso out here has this. Please look into renting elsewhere, just a small space - don't give up! We locals will STILL support you Erika!!!
Erika Hegyesi December 15, 2012 at 04:07 AM
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I wasn't really feelin' the love these last few years, but I certainly feel it now! Everyone has been so kind. I also know the community has needs that not just anyone can meet. I think you have to be a little bit of a certain kind of crazy to do what I have done for 22 years, but I have struggled to meet the requirements of those needs for some time now. It isn't easy selling living things, nor is it any easier to sell living foods FOR living things. Its a bit unsavory and comes with a whole new set of rules and complications. Like a customer who occasionally walks behind your counter and sets a few of your rodents free because she hates to see them caged! Never mind the damage they cause, I guess she didn't mind that...
Erika Hegyesi December 15, 2012 at 04:09 AM
I have been very disillusioned and disappointed and I'm sure that people who know me have noticed my absence. It's hard to come to work and look at people you know are doing wrong, while water drips on your head and your merchandise is getting wet, and entire corners of your store are a wet crumbling unusable mess that the landlord won't fix. I don't blame Benny for being an ass, I see how people have treated me... I cant even imagine what it's like to be him! I blame him for not fixing the roof. I'm not even mad about floors and landscaping and other niceties I could have enjoyed these last 11 yrs to boost morale, sales and how people perceived my business. I accepted that the building was old and wasn't expecting any miracles, but compared to his other properties, I feel like the red headed stepchild. In a recent conversation with him he said he "tried to be nice to me" ... well, I don't see it that way. I think he did a fine job of being indifferent. I went to his office today to see if we can work something out, stating that the community didn't want to see me close... and he blurted out angrily "I don't care about the community! Let them pay your bills!" Well, I thought that WAS how business works; you rent a space, meet the needs of the community... and they give you money to pay your rent. If your place looks like crap, and morale stinks... you don't get as much money... you cant pay your rent... silly me!
Erika Hegyesi December 15, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Anyhow, I do see how much you guys need me and am looking into a new place. A place with a pleasant landlord who approached me, extending his hand and smiling because he knows my store and appreciates what we do. Pray to the pet gods!
Erika Hegyesi December 15, 2012 at 04:28 AM
oopsl I almost forgot... we are open saturday and sunday from 9 am till 7 pm, and sunday will be our absolute last day. Everything must go by sunday night and we will be packing it up after 7 pm.... as always, no one will be turned away. if someone comes to our door needing anything and we have it, consider it done, Thank you all for a fantastic 22 years, in spite of some anger, sorrow and frustrations... it has been a great ride. I have learned so much, I have taught so much, and in spite of it all... I look forward to more. thank you East Hampton.
Lorilyn Haley December 16, 2012 at 02:13 AM
Look into Florida!!!! We LOVE pets here!!!!
Lorilyn Haley December 16, 2012 at 02:14 AM
Sooo sad :( We all dont want you to leave :(
Teresa zucco December 16, 2012 at 02:42 AM
The animals need a better building that one is disgusting and the leaky ceiling is flooding the place and getting every one wet :(

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