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Fin & Fur: The pet project that turned into a family business for three generations in Bishop's Stortford



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A Bishop's Stortford pet shop has celebrated 30 years in business at Thorley Neighbourhood Centre.

The Fin & Fur team celebrated at the shop off Villiers-sur-Marne Avenue with free goody bags, discounts on dog and cat food, treats, toys and beds. There were also two kinds of cake: for customers and their canine companions.

Karen Cooper is now in charge of the family business her parents Denis and Christina Westbrook founded in 1972 when they bought the Fin n Fur shop on the corner of Hockerill Street and Crown Terrace, now Wiggly Willow café.

Fin & Fur celebrating 30 years. Unit 2 Thorley Neighbourhood Centre, Thorley Park, Bishops Stortford CM23 4EG. Family and staff outside the shop with owner Karen Cooper (centre) holding her dog Sky. (17544899)
Fin & Fur celebrating 30 years. Unit 2 Thorley Neighbourhood Centre, Thorley Park, Bishops Stortford CM23 4EG. Family and staff outside the shop with owner Karen Cooper (centre) holding her dog Sky. (17544899)

Aged 13, Karen became their Saturday girl in 1974. Twelve years later she bought out her parents, and in 1989 she moved the shop to its current home, next to Sainsbury's at Thorley Park.

The Fin & Fur team includes Verity Marks, who started in 1992 as Karen's Saturday girl and joined full-time in 1995. She left after five years but returned in April 2012.

Karen paid tribute to former staff member Sue Salmon, who started working for Fin & Fur in 1994 and left in 2015 after 21 years' service. Sue died earlier this year after a battle with breast cancer; an in-store competition helped to generate £138 for the Susy's Green Army fundraising appeal set up by her family and friends for Breast Cancer Care.

Fin & Fur celebrating 30 years. Unit 2 Thorley Neighbourhood Centre, Thorley Park, Bishops Stortford CM23 4EG. Left to right: Manager Verity Marks, staff memeber Rhiannon Roberts, Owner Karen Cooper and staff member Lisa Wilkins, showing their tops which are in memory of a lady called Suzy who worked for Karen and who Karen regarded like a daughter, the tops worn ahead of a charity cycle ride happening on Sunday.. (17544908)
Fin & Fur celebrating 30 years. Unit 2 Thorley Neighbourhood Centre, Thorley Park, Bishops Stortford CM23 4EG. Left to right: Manager Verity Marks, staff memeber Rhiannon Roberts, Owner Karen Cooper and staff member Lisa Wilkins, showing their tops which are in memory of a lady called Suzy who worked for Karen and who Karen regarded like a daughter, the tops worn ahead of a charity cycle ride happening on Sunday.. (17544908)

Both of Karen's sons, Matthew and Daniel Fuller, have worked for Fin & Fur along with her husband – and "cheerful, trusty delivery driver" – Ian.

Dan joined his mum full-time in 2009 and works in the warehouse at the Peek Business Centre, off Dunmow Road, that the family opened in 2016 to expand their online and delivery operation.

Karen attributed the growth to "extensive nutritional knowledge, product knowledge, compassion and caring for people's pets and their pets' needs".

She said: "We offer a bespoke tailored service to our customers supplying them with goods they need, not what they don't need.

"We are referred to as more than a pet store, offering help and advice and support in all walks of life. Our customers are our extended family."



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