By Carlee Frank

With phrases such as ‘fur baby’ making its way into the vernacular, and videos of cats appearing on almost every social media platform, we must ask –what’s the deal with pets? Well, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, fish are the number one owned pet by Americans, followed by dogs and then cats.  Furthermore, Americans spend roughly $62.75 billion on their pets annually.

Many city folks drive to chain pet stores to buy their pet supplies, but those of us in Springville have our very own pet supply store in the heart of town.  Mark’s Country Store was opened in March of 1998 by owner Mark Meyer. While the store boasts a large stock of pet supplies, it also carries live animals, lawn and garden and farming supplies.

Meyer used to work at Agway, but left before it went out of business in the late 1990s. He then opened Mark’s Country Store just down the street where Delocon Kitchen and Bath is currently. When Agway officially went out of business, Meyer took the lot and moved Mark’s Country Store to its current location at 254 West Main Street.

Meyer said his customers at Agway were very loyal. Those who frequented the store saw that he opened his own shop, and followed him over.  Meyer said the store and its clientele has grown ever since.

“I have people come in all the time and say how much they love the store, and people have really backed me up and surrounded me,” Meyer said.

Many age groups visit the store, from children picking out their first pet to gardeners buying mulch. However, Meyer said the largest group of people visiting the store is women.  He has no definitive answer as to why, but it is a very noticeable trend. Perhaps when it comes to pet care women take the lead.

Anita Connor, employee at Mark’s Country Store, has been working there for roughly 4.5 years.

“We take care of the animals –we clean them, we feed them, we stock shelves,” Connor said, “The guys unload the trucks, and we have propane and exchange oxygen tanks. There’s a lot to do.”

Meyer employs six other staff members like Connor who pitch in with every aspect of store maintenance.  Connor said there is a definite sense of community.

The reason Mark’s is so valuable to Springville, Meyer said, is because no other store has as diverse a selection of products as he does. The store even sells seasonal items such as rock salt, snow shovels and wood pellets. So when winter gets tough, Mark’s has the supplies you need.

When it comes to animal ownership, Meyer said it is very important for children.

“I believe if kids have animals as they grow up, they become better people. They’re kinder and learn to trust animals and have animals trust them. It gives them responsibility,” Meyer said.

Connor said that when it comes to children picking out pets, her fellow employee works with the chinchillas, but she works with the hamsters and rats. She said she tries to sell rats as pets rather than as snake feed — an unfortunate consequence of selling rodents.

Both Meyer and Connor said many of the customers come in everyday, or at least very regularly.

“I get to see a lot of different people that I probably wouldn’t get to see otherwise,” Connor said.

Mark’s Country Store is coming up on 20 years in Springville, and Meyer said he plans to keep going and keep Mark’s as it is.

“It’ll stay the same way— it works,” Meyer said.

Store hours are Monday-Saturday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m.-3 p.m. For more information, stop in!