i bought marble from pet co. it was a very well kept store and the employees were knowledgeable and very helpful. mar is a wonderful little bird. happy, busy, "busy" LOL! and in excellent health. i had an exceptionally hard time picking my newest edition from there... all of the birds were in good shape, feathers in good condition, very active and playful. (a room type enclosure)
i got red from petsmart. she was no prob for me to pick because she was the only albino i had ever seen, but i did spend quite a long time watching all the birds before my final decision. this store was exceptionally clean and busy. the worst problem i had there was waiting for an employee from the bird section. (who was dealing with a couple who were getting several types of birds, so it took her a while) i was politely acknowledged and was apologized to for the wait, as there was no one else there who was able to work with the birds besides her. again, service and general knowledge quite good. (cage enclosures)
nik nak and tringkit came from a "bin-o-budgies" from p j's pets. all birds seemed in good health, lots to play with, active and very vocal! it is not a "big chain" store but bigger than a "mom and pop" business. this is where the service was most personalized and knowledge was not bad at all considering their "bird person" was not in that day. other staff members were doing cage duty according to a sheet left for unfamiliar staff. one of the employees was a little nervous around any of the hook bills but they did a good job from what i saw. nikki and tring are also clean, active, healthy birds.
in all 3 places, i did not see anything that disturbed med me or was noticeably wrong. (and believe me... i looked!) i think it all boils down to who the people are that own or run the places. employers who don't care have employees who don't care and that combination is trouble for all the animals in those places, from the fish to the birds, mammals and reptiles. check a place out, walk through, look carefully at how the stock and shelves are maintained, the floor, counter area are maintained, how the employees treat you and how organized the store itself is. as a person who has been in retail a loooong time... these are key things to look for before even going to look at the animals. if none of these things are well maintained, it will give you an approximation of how well the "inhabitants" of the place are kept. don't automatically decide against a place because of something you may have heard, go there, use your own eyes and head to make a decision. be as informed as you can be before you go. if the staff at a place cannot answer questions you have already found the answers for yourself... chances are... you may want to think twice. but DO look to see how things are before deciding against a place also.