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Mom and Dad’s finds a niche for gifts and pet needs

WARWOOD — While there aren’t any songs about it like the combination Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, you can find a combination gift shop and pet store if you know what to look for.

Mom and Dad’s Gifts, located right along W.Va. 2 in Warwood, is an eclectic shop, split fairly evenly between the gift shop side — which sells knick knacks, stuffed animals, candles and more — and a pet store side, where rabbits, fish, and birds hang out, some so quietly you’d forget they’re there. Once upon a time, there was a photography studio packaged with the store, but that has since moved on.

Mom and Dad’s right side remains one of the last locally owned pet shops in the area; the next nearest is in Weirton. While a pet store may seem like an unusual choice for a specialty store, owner Linda Caynor said the pandemic was a boon for that side of business, as people sitting at home bored looked to fill the void with fur, feathers and fish.

“Honestly, we wouldn’t make it ourselves if we weren’t a combination gift and pet shop,” Caynor said. “We have live food for critters, we sell fish — probably bigger at selling fish than anything — and little parakeets, cockatiels, little hamsters, Guinea pigs, rabbits. We’ve actually done pretty steady, if only because, what do people have to do during COVID? Get a bird, get an aquarium, get whatever because they’re so bored sitting at home.”

Caynor said there’s advantages to being a local owner to the pet shop, such as being more intimately familiar with the things they sell, and when pets sit on the shelf a little longer, they leave the store more grown and in better health. On top of that, being able to make long-term connections with other local institutions means repeat customers and recommendations.

“People tell me all the time, most of the larger shops send people to us,” she said. “Our fish do really well, because we have them a little longer. We do business with West Liberty (University) and some other schools, so a lot of kids come in because they know the schools use us.

“I think if you asked why people come to us, it’s because we’re a small shop, and people don’t feel like they can’t talk to someone. There’s someone to ask questions of. A lot of times, people don’t know what the heck they’re doing, so they’ll come in and ask, ‘How do you put this filter together?’ and I’m like, just give me the stupid filter,” Caynor joked. “It’s just like anything; you go to a small gas station because someone might actually check your oil for you.”

On the left side, racks are stacked with hundreds of stuffed animals, Precious Moments figurines and dolls, Yankee candles, and myriad other tchotchkes.

“Oh God, we had tons of lines back in the 90s, and that started our gift store,” she said.

Caynor is the sole owner of the store, though one full-time employee, Cathy, has been there for 25 years, along with part-time employees that come and go. The store opened in 1994 as a pet store, which grew into the gift store as a result of the Beanie Baby boom.

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