Lifelong Bird Lover Sings Swan Song with Going-Out-of-Business Sale
EAST WILLIAMSBURG — Carting cages with a canary-tattooed arm outside his cluttered, chirp-filled store, Pedro Tavarez shook his head to mark the end of an era for his lifelong obsession.
"I was born in the mountainous area of Dominican Republic and I always heard birds singing...It's a natural love for me," said Tavarez, whose Paradise Bird Shop gave him the chance to share his favorite animals with Brooklyn. "But we're not making enough money here...The prices for birds and for bird food have all gone up."
So, last week Tavarez slashed prices on every pet and product in the store in an effort close his doors as soon as possible.
"As soon as I sell the last bird, I'm turning in the key," said Tavarez, whose tiny Grand Street shop filled with patrons drawn by the "clearance" sign last Thursday and Friday.
"There aren't other places like this in the city, a small shop where you have someone passionate about birds. This is like old New York and it breaks my heart that it's closing," said regular customer Carmine Licata, who purchased four regular canaries and two Spanish timbrado canaries for an aviary in his house in upstate New York.
"When we buy birds at mass pet stores the birds only live for a couple of months, but I've had birds I bought here for four or five years."
Even first-time shoppers perused the shop, including an employee from a bike shop across the street.
"It would be cool to get a shop bird...we could make it sing punk rock," said the employee, John Kakalecz, who'd noticed the sale sign.
Loyal customer Frankie Adorno, who would buy Tavarez's birds and then sell them on eBay, praised the shop's selection of cockatoos, lovebirds, goldfinches and conures.
"You name it, he's got it," said Adorno, lamenting the 4-year-old shop's end. "He's trying to make a living with his birds. It hurts me that he's got to leave."