A much-loved pet shop in Wilton will close for the last time next week after more than three decades serving loyal customers and their furry friends.

Pets Pantry on West Street will officially shut its doors on Saturday January 16.

Owner Helen Curtis, 63, has taken the decision to say goodbye to her store to start a new venture.

Although Covid-19 has hit the shop hard - vaccinations finally started in Wilton this week - that's not the reason Helen is closing down for good.

Why the shop will shut for good

Helen is heading for a completely different industry with her two best friends.

She said: “Because of Covid I’ve lost a lot of customers but I’ve also gained new ones, but apart from that, I had a chance to do something else. 

“We want to move to Devon or Cornwall to start a campsite.

“If I don’t do it now I’m going to be too old to do it so it’s a bit like now or never, that’s really the only reason to be honest.”

How Pets Pantry started out

Pets Pantry was purchased by Helen and a friend 34 years ago when they noticed the shop was up for sale. 

Over the years, as relationships between people and their pets grew stronger, and people became more keen to spend more money on their pets, the shop’s popularity has grown.

Looking back, Helen says a lot has changed. 

There is now more quality food for different diets and all sorts of accessories for every budget.

“It’s all gone a bit crazy,” she joked.

Closure decision 'sad'

Talking about the upcoming closure, she said: “It’s really sad after all this time but I’m also quite excited at the prospect of moving.”

She added: “It’s the worst time ever to do it or the best time, who knows. 

“I don’t know how things are going to go, I might have had to close anyway.

“But now we’ve got this vaccine and when people start to go on holiday again I think there will be a lot more people staying in this country and camping is so popular.

"We just hope it will all come together.”

What Helen will and won't miss

One of the things she will miss the most is the banter with her customers, many of whom have become friends.

“I’ve seen people coming in with their little puppies and seen their kids grow up into adults. I made so many good friends, it’s been good.”

One of the things she definitely won’t miss is her daily commute from Christchurch where she has been living since 2002.

What next for Wilton shop?

Having already sold the shop – what it will become is still unknown – there is no going back.

She said: “My customers were really, really sad but they were also happy for me to be doing something else.

“I would like to thank everyone for their loyalty.”

Due to coronavirus and national restrictions, arranging any sort of celebration to mark the end of this chapter has been impossible.

However, Helen is hoping her customers will keep in touch.