Entrepreneur saw need, took on a pet project

Entrepreneur saw need, took on a pet project

Whatever else you do, do not miss feeding of shark on Saturdays

CHIP JOHNSTON

When Charles "Chuck" Vachris first moved to this area, he was having to
drive great distances to get premium dog food for his two Labrador
retrievers.

Vachris,
who had a background in sales, saw the need for a pet supply store and
opened Discount Pet Supplies, on N.C. 27 just across the Catawba River
from Mount Holly, selling high-quality food for pets as well as other
supplies.

As the business grew, he moved to downtown Mount Holly, 100 N. Main St., in the old Holland Drug Store location.

Now,
in addition to supplies, the store offers a large selection of fresh-
and saltwater fish, aquarium setups as well as exotic birds and
reptiles.

It also offers professional boarding and grooming as well as free aquarium set-ups and installation.

General
manager Shannon Setzer likes the relaxed atmosphere and takes pride in
their customer service. "Our customer service is the best," she says.

The
saltwater room is one of the largest in the area and features a 41/2
-foot nurse shark, which they feed for the public every Saturday
afternoon at 2 p.m.

Vachris and Setzer got the idea for the shark
while on a mini-vacation to Charleston, where they visited the aquarium
and saw a shark feeding.

"We were amazed and thought `why don’t we do this in our store?’ " Vachris said. "We came home and ordered the shark."

They had to rush to get the pond ready that night.

Vachris says the shark takes a lot of food.

"She is an eating machine," Vachris said. "She must be overfed so that she doesn’t eat other fish."

Sometimes as many as 100 people show up to witness her Saturday feedings.

While she draws the crowds, the shark is not for sale.

He
says that while he enjoys the business, he also feels he has an
obligation to educate people, especially kids, about animals and their
proper care. They offer school and Scout group tours of the store and
often take animals to area schools to talk about the animals and their
habitats.

"We like to take things kids will `ooh’ and `ahh’ over," Vachris said.

They
offer birds, fish and reptiles but they don’t offer dogs or cats,
preferring to help find homes for dogs and cats who need them.

Vachris says he finds it interesting how Mount Holly is changing, as old businesses close and new ones take their place.

"With Interstate 485 coming our way, growth is taking off," he said.

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