Popular pet sales propel local store through COVID and supply chain crises


When we opened the door to the store, we left behind the dark and gloomy weather and entered another world, an inner aquatic kingdom. The vivid colors of the ocean, many species of fish and plants in huge aquariums surrounded us, such as at Norridge’s Coral Reef Pet Center, a long-time local business facing and overcoming post-pandemic and supply chain issues. supply as demand continues to grow.

The hundreds of colorful fish competed for our attention by fluttering around, opening their mouths, shaking their fins and smiling – a fish lover’s dream. However, this dream has been thwarted by supply chain issues that are delaying the delivery and allocation of fish and equipment.

“It hasn’t been too bad for us. Just over the weekend we sold a third of our fish,” said Mario Giacobbe. Giacobbe has been in the fish lovers business for over 27 years. “People are interested in everything. We have seen an increase in demand during the pandemic and it continues today. Yes, some fish prices are going up and there is a delay in getting our large aquariums (55 gallons to more) for many reasons. This is mainly due to a shortage of glass and labor, the commissioning of manufacturers after the shutdown of the COVID, and shipping costs. Glass is expensive .

Giacobbe said they are revamping the store following a recent change in ownership. They are located at 7723 W. Lawrence Avenue. The previous owners operated this popular pet store for over 35 years.

“Not only are we going to build a spawning area for the fish underground,” Giacobbe said. “But in July we will be hosting a visit and learning event for children from the Norridge Park district to show and teach them how to take care of fish. We will also be hosting young children from across the community for different events learning and classes through schools and other organizations.

“In terms of equipment, we are still waiting for pumps and filters for our freshwater and saltwater fish to install the basement and upgrade here on the first floor,” Giacobbe said. “The hobby is growing in popularity. For example, we find that a lot of veterans enjoy keeping fish because it’s very therapeutic and relaxes them. We have a steady stream of customers who come to see what’s new and get some tips on how to take care of their fish Lots of teenagers come in. I would say most people who come are real fish lovers.


While Coral Reef employees Connor Folan and Alfonso Guzman, both of Chicago, helped a steady stream of customers, Giacobbe told us they transported all types of tropical fish (cichlids) from everywhere, including Africa, South America and South and Central Asia. These include tetras, clownfish, puffer fish and larger predators such as piranhas and more. They also sell aquarium kits, food and plants and other types of small pets, such as birds and rabbits, and supplies at the store.

Currently, some restrictions around the world prohibit the capture and sale of fish for commercial purposes. Hawaii recently banned this practice.

“We are seeing a relaxation of fish import and export rules around the world. Following the pandemic and the disruption it has caused to the industry, these restrictions have been reduced to help animal centers pets (and other locations like urban aquariums) to resume pre-COVID operations,” Giacobbe said. “At the same time, we agree with these decisions in those parts of the world that reduce access fish to preserve their environment. It’s not good to lose fish in the world.”

Giacobbe said that due to the pandemic and supply chain issues, prices had gone up and people would see him at every pet store. For example, a Yellow Tang fish can now cost up to $500.

“But prices are stabilizing,” Giacobbe noted. “We’re looking forward to raising fish in the basement. It will be new. We’ll be raising saltwater and freshwater fish and we’ll have quirky fish like octopus and seahorse.”

For those who are considering buying fish and unsure of what to feed them or how to house them, the Coral Reef team has the answers. Giacobbe, Folan and Guzman continued to answer customer questions as we drove away with our new clownfish.


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