Pets: Thanks fur the memories

12390142859?profile=RESIZE_710x Debbie Broyles, minding the store for the new owners of Fins Furs ’N Feathers, calls a customer to say pet food is ready for pickup. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

Boca’s first pet store changes hands after half-century in family

By Arden Moore

In 1970, a gallon of gas cost about 40 cents. You could buy a loaf of bread for 25 cents. A new car, on average, cost $3,560. And the city of Boca Raton was home to 28,500 residents.

The cost of everything has gone up in the past 53 years and so has the population of Boca Raton, now at 99,435, according to the latest U.S. Census.

But one of the treasured constants was — and still is — a beloved pet store called Fins Furs ’N Feathers on North Federal Highway.

12390144669?profile=RESIZE_710xBroyles’ father, Charlie Holland, opened the store in 1970 on North Federal Highway. Broyles and her family sold the shop this year to Ana and Franco Lepiane, who plan to keep its name. Photo provided

Let’s travel back in time to 1970. Charlie Holland was a well-liked Boca Raton resident who worked in grocery and antique stores. He loved providing great customer service and he loved pets — and that included his prized fish aquarium in his home. There were no pet stores in Boca Raton, so he had to drive to Fort Lauderdale for fish and supplies.

At the urging of friends and his wife, Betty, he decided to combine these passions by opening the first pet shop in Boca Raton in the fall of 1970. He named his store Fins Furs ’N Feathers.

“I remember when I was 12 years old that my dad’s store was the place for kids to visit after school,” recalls Debbie Broyles. “It wasn’t unusual to see nine or 10 bicycles parked out front and inside, see kids coming to check out the turtles, birds and fish we had.

“Dad always believed in — and taught us — to treat people right. He made everyone feel welcomed who came into our store.”

Debbie and her sister, Lisa Holland, began pitching in to help the family business as teenagers and never left. They took over their dad’s business in 1999, but Charlie would make regular visits to greet people — regulars and first-timers — through the years.

Since opening day, the Hollands have focused on providing quality food, toys and supplies for dogs, cats, small mammals, birds and fish. They have championed pet adoptions by working with animal rescue groups and have hosted fundraising events for pet groups. They have continued to post flyers about missing pets.

Through the past five decades, Debbie, now a mom of three and a grandmother of six (the seventh is due very soon), has witnessed the explosive growth of Boca Raton, the arrival of big box pet store chains and online pet giants like Chewy.

But what never changed was her love of pets and of helping people — just like her dad.

12390144895?profile=RESIZE_710xCharlie Holland with daughters Debbie Broyles and Lisa Holland in front of the store for its 53rd anniversary.

She posted this surprise announcement on the store’s Facebook page on Jan. 12 with a photo of her with her sister and Charlie, now 87, in a wheelchair due to a stroke:

“Lisa & I have a bittersweet announcement. Change has come to the pet shop. Our Dad had a stroke almost 2 years ago and doesn’t leave the house often. This photo is a recent visit to the shop. We hope to do more outings with him in the future. It is no longer owned by the Holland family.

“We have sold the pet shop to another pair of sisters. I’ve been trying for a few days to post this but it’s hard for me. We hope to see you and introduce you to the new owners.

I’ve worked here since I was 12 years old, and change is not easy.

“I know God has a plan and I’m trusting in it.”

The news sparked an avalanche of well wishes and fond memories from friends and longtime customers.

Among the Facebook posts:

“Lisa and Debbie, you will be missed. Mom-and-pop stores are so hard to find these days and FFF is a Boca landmark.” — June Beth Gordon

“You have done Boca and the pet world proud! Love you guys!” — Donna Williams

“You have taken care of me and my girls in the best of times and worst of times. I am forever grateful for your wisdom.” — Jill Leigh

“Debbie, it seems like only yesterday that we were buying our Koi fish from you for our pond. Of course, we bought things for our hamsters that the kids were raising. God bless you and the family.” — Diann Cundiff

12390145463?profile=RESIZE_710x

The new owners, Ana and Franco Lepiane, with their son, Matteo, and Ana’s father-in-law, Tony. Photos provided

The Holland family made the decision to sell the pet store to another family, Franco and Ana Lepiane and Ana’s sister, Maria. During the transition, Debbie is still at the store and says she has not decided on an exit date. She confirmed that longtime employees Zeidy Velez and Terri Bennett plan to continue working at the store.

Ana confirmed that her family plans to keep the store’s name. Her husband, Franco, also operates a pet grooming salon in Baton Raton called Pet Pourrie. The Lepianes have also created a line of organic, chemical-free grooming products for pets called EcoSpaw.

“It is rare for a store to be in business this long and we know this is bittersweet for the Hollands,” says Ana. “We know that they go above and beyond for their customers, and we hope to do the same.”

Fins, Furs ’N Feathers
The store is at 1975 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton. Learn more by calling 561-391-5858 or by visiting Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id= 100063279081448.
The new owners plan to add a website and online ordering options and offer boarding for birds and small animals like rabbits and guinea pigs.
They will not sell pets but will continue the store’s commitment to work with rescue groups to get companion animals adopted.

Arden Moore is an author, speaker and master certified pet first-aid instructor. She has a radio show, Arden Moore’s Four Legged Life (www.fourleggedlife.com), and the weekly Oh Behave! podcast on PetLifeRadio.com. Visit www.ardenmoore.com

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of The Coastal Star to add comments!

Join The Coastal Star

Activity Feed

The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Apr 9
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Apr 6
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in DELRAY BEACH
Apr 3
The Coastal Star posted a photo
Apr 3
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Apr 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in LANTANA
Apr 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in DELRAY BEACH
Apr 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in HIGHLAND BEACH
Apr 3
Mary Kate Leming posted photos
Apr 3
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Apr 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in ACROSS THE BRIDGE
Apr 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in GULF STREAM
Apr 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in SOUTH PALM BEACH
Apr 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in GULF STREAM
Apr 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in OCEAN RIDGE
Apr 3
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Apr 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a blog post
Apr 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion
Apr 3
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Apr 3
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Apr 3
More…