Hamlet pet food store owner hopes for a miracle

The owner of a Three Village staple is about to shut down her business for good.

Audrey Hebert-DiNiro said she plans to close Hamlet Pet Food & Supply Co. in the new year, though she hasn’t determined a date yet.

Hamlet Pet Food shelves empty as Hebert-DiNiro struggles to order products. Photo by Rita J. Egan

The pet food store opened at 732 North Country Road in Setauket 30 years ago. Hebert-DiNiro said after three decades, she hopes she doesn’t have to worry about keeping her store afloat. However, over the years, websites such as Chewy and Amazon have taken business away from him.

“It was a lucrative business at one time, paying salaries and health insurance and so on,” she said. “Now I can barely pay myself. It’s heartbreaking, but I don’t know what else to do.

Recently, the business owner said she started telling customers about her plan. She said she remains hopeful as customers have recommended fundraising sites such as GoFundMe.

“I could use a little miracle,” Hebert-DiNiro said.

The pet store owner said she was also affected by supply shortages. And, at the start of the pandemic, when it was able to stay open because it was deemed essential by the state, many people for months opted to stay home and order from online businesses.

In the past, she said she hasn’t done much publicity outside of the Village Times Herald and has brought in new clients mostly by word of mouth.

The business owner moved to the Three Village area in 1969 with her late husband, Joseph DiNiro, and their children Bobby and Nicole attended school in the district. Her son currently owns Hamlet Wines & Liquors, while her daughter works with her mother in the pet store.

Joseph DiNiro opened the wine store in 1979. Hebert-DiNiro said back then there were more moms and dads in the community. However, when the couple decided to open the pet supply store in the 90s, people told them they couldn’t make it back then.

“What we started with was basically a wing and a prayer,” she said.

If Hebert-DiNiro can sell the business, she will, but for now she thinks she may just have to close the shop she rents. She recently sold her house and is now renting a house in Miller Place.

She added that the stock is low as she was unable to order anything due to financial issues as pet food and supplies are paid for on delivery. Since many of its products are made in America or by small companies, it said it was difficult for its customers to find these supplies elsewhere.

The store is a place where Hebert-DiNiro said she feels in her element working with animals and their owners, and it would be sad for her to close the store, but she feels like she can’t. do nothing else.

“It’s not that I don’t want to work,” she said. “I like what I do.”