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Bay Ridge favorite Paws Truly gets new life inside Appletree Natural Market

A local Bay Ridge pet shop has been resurrected thanks to the help of a neighboring shop.

Many locals were saddened when they heard that popular pet shop Paws Truly, 7607 Third Avenue, would be shutting its doors after eight years due to a decline in business.

However, the shop, known for its array of pet products and home to the owner’s dog Seamus, who has been a fan favorite among customers, is getting a new lease on life.

Appletree Natural Market, 7613 Third Avenue, has offered to share its space with the pet shop, owned by Deirdre Cronin Butler, which will reopen on Fri., Feb. 1, though Butler cautions it may take a little time for the store to rebuild its “full stock.”

Appletree Co-owner David Runyon told this paper how the collaboration, which he called “a perfect fit,” came to fruition.

“My partner Barbara Ahrens and I took over Appletree 25 years ago,” he said of the shop that has been part of Bay Ridge for 40 years. “At that time, Third Avenue was bustling.”

However, he continued, “I noticed through the years, due to increased commercial rent and internet shopping, so many lovely businesses have had to close, Zen being one of the most recent. When I heard Deirdre was thinking about closing, I said, ‘We can’t let this happen.’ We talked about it and we decided we would share a space and hopefully, in our little way, it’s helping to preserve Third Avenue and bring it back to what it should be.”

Butler is excited about the chance to remain on Third Avenue.

“I was more than thrilled when David approached me and suggested this,” she said. “I think our products are very complimentary with each other. We always try to stick with a healthy variety of snacks, and good quality products for pets.”

Paws Truly owner Deirdre Cronin Butler and Appletree Natural Market co-owner David Runyon.

Leaving the original space was difficult, she said, but necessary due to financial struggles.

“I have to be honest. I didn’t want to leave,” she confessed. “I had a great landlord, but the marketplace has just changed so much. We lost so much business to internet shopping and it was becoming impossible to compete.”

Within the last year, she said, business had slowed down and it was obvious by early fall that it would be really tough to remain open. By October, the decision to close was made.

“We didn’t see things really improving much on the avenue so we were thinking about a smaller space but I think that this is a much better opportunity,” she said. “Here, with a smaller space, we are going to focus on our treats, our toys, birthday products, seasonal items. I think it’s going to us a chance to get a good foothold and stick with our regulars and get new customers.”

The thought of being gone from the neighborhood was difficult for Butler.

“It was very hard,” she explained. “I have so many wonderful customers who I knew I would miss terribly, and just seeing everyone in the avenue. It was heartbreaking to think we would be gone so we’re very happy that we have a new life thanks to Appletree.”

The shared philosophy of the two stores made it a natural fit.

“Our primary focus is on health,” Runyon said. “Everyone wants their family, friends and pets to be healthy and happy as does Paws Truly. Through the years, she’s sent customers to me. I’ve sent customers to her. The bulk of our regular customers know us both already.”

Customers also come into Appletree to see the store’s cat, Nicolas.

“Like Deirdre with Seamus, people come here just to see Nicolas,” Runyon said. “They really are the stars.”

Butler added that although Seamus is currently in semi-retirement, he will be in the store certain days.

“We’ve already discussed special events, parties and things,” Runyon said.

“Now we get to hang on with Nicolas. He’s excited. He and Seamus met and do very well together. It’ll be a cute thing,” added Butler.

The reception has been overwhelmingly positive. When Paws Truly made the announcement of the move via Facebook, many customers expressed excitement.

“What great news!! Congratulations & many, many more years in your new location!” wrote one customer. “We will see you in February!”

“Yay! My two favorite stores in one spot. Such great news,” wrote another.

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