New owners take over Wild Birds Unlimited

Whether you’re looking to attract sparrows or hummingbirds, Wild Birds Unlimited has the supplies you’ll need. The establishment’s vast bird-related inventory solidifies its slogan of being "your backyard birdfeeding specialist." The franchise, located in the Rockford Plaza at 2554 Charles St., is one of 300 Wild Birds Unlimited stores across the nation.

The business experienced several changes recently with the introduction of new owners, Bob and Carol Bailey. After losing his manufacturing job at Invensys (the former Barber Colman) due to company cutbacks, Bob Bailey began searching for another job that would allow him to stay in the Rockford area. Through a newspaper ad, he learned that the owners of Wild Birds Unlimited were retiring and looking for someone to take over the business. Bailey, a lifelong bird lover, took action and became the new owner on April 1, the store’s 11th year anniversary." I just knew right away it was the right thing to do," Bailey said.

Although July tends to be a slow month, Bailey described business as going "very well." He explained that Wild Birds Unlimited’s main focus is on special kinds of birdseed. "We have probably 20 different types of seed available for birds," Bailey said. He estimated that seed sales account for 33 percent of the store’s business. The specific seed blends are designed to attract particular birds by catering to their needs and tastes. Bailey said the most common birds customers buy seed for are cardinals, goldfinches and hummingbirds.

For patrons looking to discourage certain birds, such as blackbirds, from roaming their yards, Wild Birds Unlimited also offers a type of seed that will appeal to every bird but the blackbird. Additionally, the store appeases both squirrel lovers and loathers by selling food that will either entice or repel the furry creatures.

Birdhouses and feeders are also popular draws. Many of the birdhouses are creative and vibrant, especially the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys themed abodes. Wild Birds Unlimited offers a variety of other bird-related fare including bird baths, nest building kits, singing bird clocks, feeding guides, and framed pictures. Lawn and garden pieces are featured as well. Bailey was quick to point out that the store does not sell live birds. While it does carry plush birds that produce actual birdcalls with the push of a button, no real birds are for sale.

Customers also have the option of receiving Bird Tracks, a free, quarterly newsletter that highlights local events and offers discounts to Wild Birds Unlimited. To sign up, simply visit the store and fill out a brief informational form. Currently, 3,000 people have subscribed to Bird Tracks.

“The one big advantage to our store is that the people that work here know anything and everything about feeding birds in your backyard,” Bailey asserted.

Wild Birds Unlimited is open Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Info: 229-3284.

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