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San Francisco pet store owner giving away his store for free — with a catch

<i>KPIX</i><br/>It's clear John Chan has his way with animals. And why wouldn't he? Since he was little
It's clear John Chan has his way with animals. And why wouldn't he? Since he was little


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    SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — A pet shop owner is looking to retire, but first, he’ll have to give away his business — literally.

You could say talking to reporters isn’t one of John Chan’s favorite things.

“I’m not good on camera,” he said nervously.

But when it comes to animals, not only can he talk, they actually listen. A few words from Chan is all it took to silence a particularly chatty parrot at his store in Chinatown, called Pet Central (

It’s clear Chan has his way with animals. And why wouldn’t he? Since he was little, he’s spent every spare moment here, following his dad around.

After his dad retired, Chan took over, tending to exotic pets from birds to reptiles to fish.

“When you come in to the store and you see all the animals looking for you, how happy they are dancing in front of you and that’s the most important thing,” he said.

For more than 40 years he’s been working 10 hours a day, six days a week, never taking so much as a couple of days’ vacation.

But now, at 58, he too is looking to retire and spend more time with his family. Which is why recently, he posted an ad on social media looking for someone to take over the business.

The ad read: “Pet store for sale. Owner retired. Looking for some one [sic] who loves animals. And take good care of my customers. Asking price is $0.”

“We’re not trying to make money off the pet store,” Chan explained. “We want to make sure we find people with a good heart. That’s the most important thing.”

It’s not completely free. While Chan says the business is worth about $300,000, he’s hoping to recoup the inventory, which is about half that.

Andrew Brown, one of his regulars, said this is the end of an era.

“I can only say this is very iconic of him,” he said.

As for John, he’s already making plans for the future.

“I think a long-time vacation, maybe a couple of weeks, maybe a month?” he said.

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