Closing in on 11th anniversary, The Jungle Pet Shop continues to serve Craig’s exotic pet and plant needs
Clint Gabbert’s Jungle Pet Shop stands alone among exotic pet shops in Western Colorado
Craig might seem an unusual spot to find an exotic pet shop.
Fortunately for Clint and Leonna Gabbert, the owners of The Jungle Pet Shop in Craig, that changed 11 years ago. With a little bit of creativity and a desire to switch things up, the Gabberts created a first in Western Colorado with the shop.
Closing in on its 11th anniversary, which coincides with Clint Gabbert’s birthday March 4, The Jungle Pet Shop — located at 29 W. Victory Way — sells many non-traditional pets such as parakeets, mice, geckos and various types of exotic fish, which lines the walls with tanks of fish from all over the world.
“Our most popular pets I’d say are our aquariums and beta fish and then leopard geckos and crusted geckos and bearded dragons,” Gabbert said.
Though his product is very specific to a burgeoning market, Gabbert — like nearly every business owner — had to adjust on the fly in 2020 to stay afloat due to the pandemic, which caused significant supply chain issues.
Fortunately for him, he was able to make the adjustment appear seamless, incorporating exotic house plants and specially-made orders of animals for customers.
“We started carrying house plants during this whole thing because of supply chain issues; we could’ve probably had our best year ever. But there was a good six months where we couldn’t get any inventory and that really hurt us. We were really out of stuff and barely getting by for two months,” Gabbert said.
The store sells exotic plants that are rare to find in places in Colorado, unless you’re inside The Jungle Pet Shop.
“Just tropical plants. Stuff you can’t find in a grocery store. More exotic tropicals,” Gabbert added.
Despite the challenges with the supply chain and the inability to stay stocked on products, the store has seen an increase in sales, largely due to people who were stuck at home wanting to do something. That has been the case with both animals and plants for Gabbert and The Jungle Pet Shop.
“The whole pet industry has been overwhelmed through COVID, because everyone is stuck at home and that’s a good time to get a pet or an aquarium to work on while you’re quarantined or just working from home,” Gabbert said.
At its core though, The Jungle Pet Shop is a pet store, providing customers with the opportunity in northwest Colorado to purchase exotic animals they can’t find anywhere else on the Western Slope.
Knowing that, Gabbert has to put in long hours just to make sure he receives his inventory.
When Gabbert gets a new supply of fish from his suppliers, he has a long day as the fish arrive early in the morning at Denver International Airport fresh off of a Southwest Airlines flight.
From there, Gabbert makes the trip back to Craig as quickly as possible to get the fish into tanks at the shop.
“They are flown in to Los Angeles and they put new oxygen and water in the bags if it’s necessary, and then flown directly to me in Denver,” Gabbert said. “The fish fly in at four in the morning on a Monday and I don’t like to have the fish sitting for four hours or five hours. They’ve already been in the bag for two days, they need to get to a tank as quickly as possible.”
With the amount of travel involved for the fish, shipping costs for Gabbert to get tropical fish has skyrocketed as a result of the pandemic due the travel costs associated with bringing them from places around the world to his store.
“The shipping cost has gone way up. Not necessarily the price of the fish but the cost to get them here, which trickles down to the retail price….I’m having to predict orders for four months ahead of time and it’s really difficult to predict what I need four months ahead of time,” Gabbert said. “I mean I’m ordering for June right now and hoping that it comes.”
The store is hoping that the supply chain issues clear up in the near future and that they can continue to get local residents the animals and products to support those animals that they need.
In the mean time, the Gabberts are looking forward to celebrating their 11th anniversary as business owners in downtown Craig.
The Jungle Pet Shop can be found at, “https://www.loc8nearme.com/colorado/craig/the-jungle-pet-shop/3182148/”
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