SALISBURY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – A beloved gift shop in Salisbury is closing for good this weekend, but questions remain about what will happen to the historic coin-operated horse that sits outside it.

The owners of Critters Cards and Gifts announced the shop would close for good Sunday after 16 years on Main Street due to their retirement.

Throughout the shop’s last week, visitors have come to say goodbye to the store and Champion, the 73-year-old mechanical horse outside the front door.

“Ever since I was little, I would come here and ride Champion. About once a week for years,” said 16-year-old Mitchell Allen.

Owner Bob Lambrecht said once the store closes, he hopes to sell Champion to another store on Main Street so that kids can continue to enjoy him.

“I would love for one of these other shops to pick it up and have it out like Bob does,” said Salisbury resident Linda Alexander.

Since the announcement, business owners have contacted Lambrecht in droves, expressing interest in purchasing the horse from him.

“A lot of people are like, ‘I want it! I want it!’ Different businesses, which is cool,” said Made Man Barber & Shave owner Brian Hunt. “I hope he looks at it as how important not just the horse is, but people want to keep that memory of Critters here.”

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Hunt is one of the potential buyers for Champion the horse, which he says symbolizes special memories between him and his son.

“Anytime we would come downtown, that’s where he would gravitate to, is Champion,” said Hunt.

Critters first opened in Salisbury in 2007. Before that, its owners ran a store of the same name in California, which also had a mechanical horse.