December 28, 2012

Souvenirs for Vinny!

For Turkey Day, my girlfriend and I went to visit her family in the USA. Vinny stayed with the vet for those 17 days. Our bird-expert vet has a boarding arrangement as well. See our separate post about that.

Usually when we visit the States, we do lots of shopping, clothing in particular. Everything is much cheaper there so we save a ton of money. This was our first trip since we have Vinny, so we figured it was time to do some Vinny-shopping as well. Time to get souvenirs.

Now, most souvenirs we had on our shopping list included materials to create toys ourselves. Raw leather (not chemically treated) is hard to find here, including stainless steel clasps, rings and parts, at least at a reasonable price.

Halfway through our vacation, we hadn't gotten anything for Vinny yet, except for 2 colorful cardboard pinatas, from a chain pet store. Much cheaper than here in the Netherlands, but not what we were looking for. So we did some googling and this is how it came to be that we found THE PERFECT STORE !!

Why in capitals, why so sure about that? If you're ever in the States, or if you live there, you should really (and I can't emphasize this enough) check out the store we found.

It was an hour drive for us, from where my girlfriend's mother lives (Allentown, PA) to a town called Burlington, in the wonderful state of New Jersey. This is where we found Bird Paradise, and that was exactly what it looked like to us!

Bird Paradise, front/road view of the store
 They call themselves 'World's Largest Bird Store' and we've visited a few that called themselves that, but this particular one is definitely worthy of that title. One experience we will never forget. Let me describe how we experienced this store.

So, you come to this store, with a parking lot suitable for maybe 60-70 cars, and a reasonably sized building. One floor. And all around the parking lot are 2nd hand cages lined up, with price tags on them. The building obviously screams that they're some kind of parrot store, but once you get inside, the first thing you notice is a corridor with bird toys on either side. This was already more than we saw in any Dutch pet store. Then, about 15 feet in, a sign and spray bottles with hand sanitizer. A good sign! They take hygiene seriously and that's always nice to see.

Then we turned right, and came into a room with stuff for wild birds. We were put off a bit. We figured, so half the store is gonna be like this? Not what we're looking for. But we pushed on, took another turn and came into another room, and another turn and into the the main room, where the front desk and register were. More walls filled with toys. More stands, also filled with toys. More of everything, except for the wild bird crap. Who's interested in that? Not us, so we were happy that that was only in one room apparently.

In the main room, they had a bunch of large stands with tame parrots sitting on them, amongst other birds, at least a couple of very friendly Eclectus and an adult Macaw that truly was the sweetest of all.

Walls and walls full of toys
Then we took another turn, and all of a sudden it dawned on us! We had arrived in Bird Toy Heaven! We looked down this isle, which gradually sloped down into a basement of sorts, and looked down a path crossing at least 4 (four!) more rooms, exactly like the ones we walked through.

Floor to wall, narrow paths in between stands, all filled with nothing but parrot toys, parrot toy parts, parrot stands, parrot EVERYTHING! You name it, we saw it there.

All in all we walked through about 8 rooms, all like that, with no exception. And at the end of it all, we went into the large rooms (plural) with the live parrots! More 'oh-my-goodness' !! Big cages, open sections with hundreds of parrots of all sorts! Even one with about 20 Caiques, all housed together, playful and clown-like as they always are .. while we had trouble finding those here in the Netherlands!

The pictures in this post don't do the right amount of justice to this store. We felt truly humble here. If you live far away, but if you ever get a chance, make sure you visit this place!

Sign in the store, hanging just a bit too low?
A few hours later, after the friendly lady at the desk had tallied up the US$ 212 we spent (and that was after putting back some stuff, because it was too much to take home), we walked back to the car and drove off silently, still impressed. It was 10 minutes later when the first thing we said was: good thing we don't live around here! We'd be broke by now, just because of this store!

Back at home, we still have a big red suitcase sitting in our living room. It is the one with all the toys and Vinny stuff. And whenever Vinny is around and we come near the suitcase, he goes on high alert! He stretches his neck, he looks at the suitcase, he knows that all those colorful things in there are his. We even caught him red-clawed a few times, trying to get into the suitcase, while we were just looking away for a moment. Sneaky bird!

But he can't have it all in one go, This new collection of toys is supposed to last us at least a year, so whenever it's time for a new toy, we let him ruffle through the suitcase and whatever he picks out, he gets, before the suitcase closes again till next time.

Vinny picking a toy from the red suitcase

Information about the store:
Name: Bird Paradise
Webshop: (they ship internationally)
Address: 551 E Rt 130 South, Burlington, NJ, USA

No, we don't own shares of this store, nor are we in any way affiliated, except for the fact that we became instant fans of Bird Paradise during our visit. Next time we're in the States, we definitely clear a day in our schedule (and a sizable chunk out of our budget) to visit this store!