DETROIT – The owners of M&M Pet Supplies on Detroit's east side almost closed the business, but a longtime employee stepped up and can now call himself the owner.
M&M Pet Supplies has been in business for 52 years, but the owners were ready to retire.
Steven Franks has worked at the business on East Warren Avenue since he was 17 years old.
"Learning how to do orders, stocks, running a store," Franks said.
He was hired by the original owner, Martin Gallo, who opened for business more than 50 years ago.
"Steve kept coming in every day and finally, my dad asked him, 'Do you want a job here?'" said Frank Gallo, Martin Gallo's son.
Frank Gallo and his brother took over the business after their father passed away.
"This place was family," Frank Gallo said.
Three weeks ago, the brothers decided to retire. They said it was an emotional decision, but it was a long time coming.
"After all these years, it's hard to walk away from it," Frank Gallo said. "It's time."
But the thought of closing up the shop was too much for Franks.
"It kind of stuck to me," Franks said. "I've been here too long to let this place go. It's worth the big chance to keep it going and take it over."
He's keeping the fish and the creepy crawlers and is in the process of restocking. Thursday was the first day under the new ownership, and longtime customers are thrilled.
"I've been coming here forever," customer Stan Reeder said. "I love this place."
They're hoping Franks can keep the institution going for the next 50 years.
"It's an honor," Franks said.
He's also keeping some things for nostalgic reasons, such as the longtime counter, Martin Gallo's stool and the original door.
Frank Gallo said he still has the keys. He said he and his brother, Joe Gallo, will be on hand if Franks needs help.