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Winchester Resident Makes Local Pet Store a Family Business [VIDEO]

Stephen Ayer opened a reptile pet store - Jabberwock Reptiles - along Main Street.

For the last few years, Stephen Ayer has been raising, breeding and bringing reptiles into his Winchester home.

“My house started to fill up with geckos,” Ayer said.

So, he began taking his pets to sell at expos in the area. The more he went to these shows, the more Ayer realized that having a pet store that sells reptiles might be something people want.

“I started thinking that maybe having a store isn’t an impossible idea,” said Ayer. “I could sell the animals I breed and give people quality advice on how to raise them.”

While the store is open for business right now, Ayer said that Jabberwock Reptiles, located at 959 Main Street, will have an official Grand Opening on Saturday, Nov. 5.

Ayer, who has a PhD. in biology, is fascinated by reptiles, and believes his store could help people successfully raise reptiles.

“One motivation to open the store was that I could now buy stuff wholesale and sell it cheaper than the larger box stores,” Ayer said. “There’s not really a good store around here and I was spending a lot of money on a hobby.”

With his degree and knowledge in the field, Ayer said that he would be able to give better advice, have healthier animals and better supplies then some of the bigger pet stores in the area.

“I had a boy come in to the store and told me that his snake was killed by crickets,” Ayer said. “He said that the guy at the pet store told him that’s what it eats, but that’s not accurate. It really depends who you speak to at those stores. Some people don’t know what these animals need. And I think that’s where I can help people out.”

The store will have bearded dragons, leopard geckos, snakes, lizards, turtles, frogs, toads and maybe some bugs, such as tarantulas. Customers can also buy supplies, tanks or decorations and food like live bugs or mice.

But for Ayer, the store is more than just a hobby. His three children – Ben (19), Sam (16) and Olivia (sixth grade) – along with his wife, Barbara Hibner, who also has a PhD. in biology, will all be working at the store.

“It should be a fun, family thing to do together,” Ayer said. “I’m not sure if all the kids will be as excited as I am, but if this becomes a successful business, it can be something where we can all work at.”

According to Ayer, who plans on acquiring most of the animals from local breeders, the prices for the reptiles will range in cost, but he said that his store will be cheaper than the larger pet stores in the area.  

Right now, Ayer estimates that he has over 100 animals at the store.

Jabberwock Reptiles is currently open for business. Tentatively, Ayer plans to have his store open from noon to 6 p.m., opening earlier on Saturdays, closing earlier on Sundays and closed on Mondays.

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