SAN FRANCISCO – Apart from the constant chirping of exotic birds, for the most part John Chan’s days are relatively peaceful.
But lately, his life has been nothing short of a whirlwind.
“It’s so crazy,” he said. After it aired, after the news, it was a hundred calls, texting, e-mails and all kinds of stuff. I worked day and night to answer all the questions.”
As KPIX first reported last month, after 40 years of working at his family-owned business, Pet Central in Chinatown, Chan was ready to retire. Which is why he posted an ad on the Nextdoor app.
“Pet store for sale,” he wrote, “looking for some one [sic] who loves animals. Asking price is $0,” the ad stated.
Chan said, “Everybody says are you kidding? Are you sure about this?”
The store wasn’t completely free. Chan was hoping to recoup his investment in inventory, worth about $120,000.
“I just wanted to find someone who would take care of the animals and my customers they. I like my customers. my customers are like friends and family,” he said.
After his story aired, Chan was flooded with hundreds of applications from all over the world.
Even Nextdoor called, urging him to post an update. His story, they told him, was their top post for a week.
“It spread out so fast,” he said. First few days it was local, then other state Texas, Missouri. Then, another week, it spread out to other countries. People emailing from Singapore, Canada, I couldn’t believe it.”
After a rather lengthy process, Chan found his successor: Christopher Blake, a former teamster and, as of Friday, pet store owner.
“I was YouTubing, and I saw CBS News had an article about John giving up the pets store for $0 and me and two other of good friends who grew up in Chinatown, we couldn’t let this place go,” he said.
Chan said Blake and his partners were the perfect candidates. They were young, they had passion, and they all had animals — many of which they bought at Pet Central.
Blake said he used to come to the store with his father, who passed away during the pandemic. Keeping the store was a way to honor him.
“I feel like Willy Wonka,” he said. “I feel like I won the golden ticket.”
As for Chan, he’s already planning his first vacation in 15 years.
“It’s very exciting,” he said. “You made me big news.”