A FAMILY-run pet store in Mauchline has shut its doors after nearly 50 years in business because the COVID-19 crisis made it too difficult to stay open.

Petcayr by T and G Hutchison has been servicing the needs of Mauchline’s furry friends out of its Kilmarnock Road premise since 1974, with locals having flocked to partners Tommy and Gladys for their much-needed pet supplies for decades.

During lockdown, owner Catherine Hutchison operated a successful delivery service throughout Cumnock, Auchinleck and Ochiltree while the shop was temporarily closed.

But with stock and staffing pressures beginning to mount, the family have now taken the difficult decision to shut up shop for good, marking the end of an era for the well-known local business.

Catherine said: “It wasn’t an easy decision to make as we’ve been in the village since 1974 so we have a long connection there. This is the final chapter of a business that’s been kicking around Mauchline for a very long time over several different sites.

“My mum had to take forced retirement as she’s 74 and has been shielding so hasn’t been able to go down and work. It’s also not a good time to start training people up because of social distancing measures which the shop doesn’t lend itself well to.

“We’ve also got an ageing customer base in Mauchline who may find it difficult to order online so that’s why the delivery service has been good so locals can pick up the phone to someone they actually know and their food will land at their door a few days later.”

Catherine says lockdown “knocked 10 years off my life” after working round the clock to ensure Ayrshire pets were fed and watered during the pandemic.

She said: “I’ve never worked through anything like that in my life. People were messaging at two or three in the morning desperate for dog food. At one stage we had to hire a van to drive to Preston to pick up our own label dog food because the supermarkets commandeered all the food haulers.

“It was a crazy situation where we were doing double Christmas figures even though it was hard to access stock. There was a huge amount of concern for people’s dogs and cats’ wellbeing and some of our older customers wanted bird seed too. If they were going be stuck at home for weeks they didn’t want the birds to go away.”

Customers will be happy to know that Petcayr’s Ayr store remains open and that Catherine is looking for the perfect tenant to take over the Mauchline premise.

Catherine said: “It’s the last building of Mauchline Box Works where Mauchline Ware was made so it’s an historic site. It would be nice to see something there that will serve the community and keep money in the local economy. It won’t go to just anybody, it’ll go to the right tenant.”