That Crazy Fish Store and More transitions to
Gary Lumley holds Sam, a five-year-old moluccan cockatoo. Sam was previously held in a home too small for him, but has found a happy home at the store while awaiting adoption.
By JORDAN GRUCZA
Enquirer Democrat Reporter
That Crazy Fish Store and More in Gillespie will soon be shifting its focus away from live fish to birds. According to owner Gary Lumley, there have been large number of birds in distress from Macoupin sent his way by citizens and state agencies. They are usually malnourished and mistreated by owners who did not anticipate the money and effort that goes into adopting a bird. Because of this, Lumley was inspired to acquire a state license to create a bird rescue. When finished with renovations, the location will no longer carry live fish but supplies for fish will remain in stock.
While the business is undergoing a transition, it has had policies from day one that will remain true once the bird rescue is up and running. Lumley stresses that the business is meant for those who are serious about adopting a bird and not for idle browsing, which co-owner Schatzi Grossglauser stresses is difficult for the bird.
“That’s what we built our reputation on,” Lumley said.
Among the renovations the store is undergoing are visiting areas for one-on-one time with the birds in order for the hopeful owner to form a bond with the right bird. Grossglauser has a particular knack for pairing birds with owners.
“Sometimes you may think you want one bird,” Grossglauser said. “I may tell you that’s not the bird for you, but this one is. One lady came in thinking she really wanted a Jane, macaw and ended up with an amazon named Sarge. She told me the other day ‘I will never let anyone get between me and Sarge.’ They’re the best of friends. This bird crawls up on her when she’s not feeling good and just sits up there and loves on her.”
“This is not to say we want to discourage people from getting a certain kind of bird,” Lumley said. “We just want to help make sure the bird and owner are a right fit.”
According to Grossglauser and Lumley, the kinds of responsibilities that many owners do not realize include quarterly beak and nail trimming, as well as regular purchases of toys and perches. Perches wear down to nothing over time due to chewing and exercise of the birds’ beaks. This also adds up to considerable expenses.
Sam, a five-year-old moluccan cockatoo brought in seven weeks ago, takes $150 a month to maintain. Another thing to keep in mind is this large birds species lives 60 to 100 years and has a noise level of 135 decibels, close to a 747 jet.
That said, Sam is loving and quiet as a mouse when he isn’t in distress, and this is clear when he adjusts to strangers. Lumley said he could be heard from the street from the small house he was previously kept in.
“He was going crazy in there,” Lumley said.
The supplies available at the store include many items that can’t be found at large chain stores, including healthy bird food that can be cooked, and perches that simulate large, strong branches. The knowledge that Lumley and Grossglauser have for bird care is immediately apparent when one walks through the door.
For future plans, the two owners have their eyes on seven acres in Virden, where they hope to one day construct a large steel outdoor aviary.
In the meantime, they predict renovations will be finished by the end of September and the two want to hold a meet and greet in October.
All birds that come to the store are vetted and rehabilitated. Lumley and Grossglauser’s ultimate mission is to create awareness in the community of what it takes to own and properly care for a bird.
“This is not like other businesses where it’s all about the money,” Lumley said. “Ultimately it’s about what’s best for the bird.”