Exotic Birds & Pets, part of the Ceres retail landscape for 32 years, is winding down and will likely not relocate after parting ways with the Richland Shopping Center.
Neither the landlord nor the tenant was eager to talk about why the store is closing.
"It's a long story," said shop owner Greg Mull when asked why his store is closing. "I cannot talk about it."
Shopping center manager and owner Nick Pallios said the departure is by "mutual agreement."
Mull is liquidating the contents of the store, and says he cannot afford to continue his business elsewhere in Ceres. Only a few fish and a vast amount of pet supplies remained in the store last week after Mull placed sale signs outside his shop.
Mull said he would like to remain operating a pet store in Ceres but "I don't have the money, I don't have the time. I would like to move but it's too expensive and I don't have the money to do it."
"It was not ideal for me. I didn't want to end this. We put in a couple of inquiries into trying to move the store but it's just expensive. I would love to be able to. Ceres has done really, really well for me and I can't imagine being anywhere else. I don't want to be in Turlock. I don't want to be in Modesto. If I were to move I would stay here in Ceres. I mean, I have the money from liquidating the store to move the store but then I don't have any product."
He estimated a move would cost $20,000. Just moving the sign from the building would cost $1,500.
Mull has been in the store for 10 years, taking over from founding owner Jan Cooper. On Nov. 12 he began discounting merchandise 25 percent off in an attempt to sell all of his stock. Signs outside the store indicate everything is half off. What doesn't sell will be farmed out to local pet stores Mull has connections to.
"Initially he wanted us out by the first of the month (December) but he's willing to work with us as long as we are moving product and still have stuff to sell."
Mull, who is 35, is faced with deciding what to do and says he may go to work as a pet supply distributor or manufacturer representative.
"I didn't have a Plan B. I mean, I literally went to high school to be a business owner and it took me my whole life to save up the money to buy a business."
Three employees have been let go but some have remained to help Mull as volunteers, he said.