After 20 years in the Westford area, local business owner Laura Hines is moving on, closing her pet store on Littleton Road last week.
Formerly located across from Red Hat and next to the Westford Post Office and Boch Honda West, Petthingz had been a staple of the Westford community since 2012, when it moved from just down the road in Littleton, where it was situated next door to Donelan’s for 17 years.
That Littleton location was ideal for her, but a new building owner forced the move to Westford.
Although she believes the new Petco coming into Cornerstone Square had an impact, the biggest issue leading to her store’s closing was the town’s sign bylaws making it difficult to augment her storefront sign, which was set back from the street.
While those bylaws were updated and modified in 2013, by that point it was likely too late.
“People weren’t able to find us right away, and we weren’t able to gain a foothold,” said Hines. “If we were able to let people know where we were, it would have made a big difference. We had people two years later saying ‘we can’t find you’ or ‘I finally found you.’”
The closure marks the end of Hines’ operation of pet stores in this area as well as nine years in Texas before coming to Massachusetts.
Despite the closure, she has no regrets, although it will be difficult to leave all those who helped her business throughout the years.
“There have been a lot of hugs and a lot of crying,” said Hines. “That’s been the hardest part, saying good bye to all the customers. Westford’s been such a great town.”
One of those customers was Brooke Johanson, a long time resident of Westford who just moved back to town.
Johanson stopped by to get some clearance hamster equipment as well as a good bye to an old friend.
“I just had heard they were closing and I wanted to see them,” she said. “It’s just so sad. They’re such good people.”
In addition to the connections Hines made with customers, Petthingz was also a staple with animal rescue groups like the Lowell Humane Society, regularly helping their efforts in the area.
“Laura has been such a friend to animal rescue causes since Petthingz has been in business,” said Kathy Nolan Deschenes, Lowell Humane Society board member. “Her hosting of weekly in-store events for local rescues, generosity towards the Lowell Humane Society, and promotion of pet adoption is something all of us rescuers will sorely miss.”
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