“People are buying online:” It’s the end of the road for Hoffer’s Tropic Life Pet Center

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- When the first store opened in 1973, it measured about 600 square feet. 41 years later, the facility houses more than 26,000 square feet of pets and supplies. But now, the owner of Hoffer's Tropic Life Pet Center says he's preparing to shut down for good.

The reserved reptiles, frisky felines and American alligators are all among the amazing animals who have lived within the walls of Hoffer's Tropic Life Pets. But on Monday, October 13th, owner Mike Hoffer says economic pressures are pushing him to close what he says is the country's largest pet store of its kind. It'll close before the end of this year.

"More and more people are buying online -- and it, it hurts," said Hoffer.

The pain is shared by thousands of pets and people who have come to count on Hoffer's help.

"I'd really wanted to bring my little one here to see all the animals. So, I was like, 'Well, we better get out there, now, 'cause now they're closing. It's kinda disappointing," said Heidi McMurphy, a Hoffer's customer.

But even as he prepares to shut his doors, Hoffer hopes he has a way to hang on.

"If some rich guy would come in and say, 'I wanna invest in this store, buy the store, the company, the property, the business -- for my kids to run,' I would tell him, 'I'll stay on, for as long as you want, and I won't take a cent out of it. I'll just, I'll work for free.' That's how much I love it," said Hoffer.

Hoffer says the daily tortoise feedings, library talks, birthday parties, school tours and free popcorn Sundays will continue until the store closes.


  • Alicia McNally

    I heard someone say they wouldn’t shop there because prices were too high. You don’t shop there for the discounts and cheap prices. You shop there because you get EXPERIENCED, KNOWLEDGEABLE help. You walk out knowing what you’re buying and knowing that the animals you buy are healthy. The best reason to shop at a place like Hoffer’s is that Mike and his staff won’t sell you something just to make a buck. They will sell you something that you need. They won’t let you leave with an animal you won’t know how to take care of or one that won’t get along with other pets. That is the great loss here- not another retail shop- it’s a genuine way of doing business- where you look out for the animals AND the buyer. Something I preached to all pet shop owners after being at Hoffer’s. THAT is a legacy Mike and all his staff should be proud of. An ethic of business that all others in the trade should look up to and aspire to. Something pet store shoppers should look for and support. Not a business that will have you buy anything you want without knowing anything about it, or even if it’s what you need! And the greatest tragedy is that people don’t understand the value they have in a business like the one Mike Hoffer set up- and soon it will be gone.

  • Dana Carpenter

    So sad to see this place go. We only recently discovered it with our kids and made the trek from the south side about a week ago. I vowed that when we were able to get them pets of their own we would shop there. The staff was so friendly and knowledgable, taking time out of their day to bring a smile to our boys faces. No matter the outcome, we wish you all the best.

  • luxeface86

    I can’t believe he is not going to adapt to the times and sell his services online. He has an amazing store with knowledgeable staff; he’d make a killing online. I just… don’t understand it. It doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to bring yourself online. Just do it.

  • Jae

    Over the years we have bought many pets here. It was so much more that a pet store. I would bring the kids just to see the animals. The staff was always there to help and give their knowledge. My family will truly miss this experience. Good luck Mike.

  • Frank

    It sounds like maybe he should open a mini reptile zoo. We have one here, people pay like $5 to get in. Part planning, etc. Doesn’t seem like it would take a lot of capital to get it done. Licenses might be his only real costs.

  • Shawn Hansen

    Please just open an online store along with the live store. It’s so easy and the company is known enough to gain a Huge market potential and will keep the cash flow normal plus some! Just saying..

  • Cindy Leonhardt

    Been shopping at Hoffers for over 30 yrs. Very sad to see it close. Hope something happens between now and the end of the year so it can remain open. 😥

  • jan truex

    are you people clueless? why would you endorse breeding already overpopulated animals ! some of those animals end up in horrible conditions and our shelters are overflowing ! glad to see it go !

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