Swords and Dreams Reptile Rescue: The man behind the West Allis one-stop shop

Swords and Dreams Reptile Rescue: The man behind the West Allis one-stop shop

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Swords, snakes, cigarettes… you name it, Tom McNeil probably sells it,

“At one point I had everything from swords to home pregnancies tests in here… I’ve been buying and selling and trading for years; if you ain’t got the money, I’m sure you’ve got something you don’t want!”

Makenzie Boettcher | 88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Owner Tom McNeil poses in front of his West Allis sword shop meets animal rescue.

McNeil has slowly become a legend in Milwaukee, whether its from his charming store on Greenfield Avenue, his playful mannerisms or his genuine care for both people and animals. But with owning a store named Swords and Dreams Reptile Rescue, Tom has answered his fair share of questions over the years,

“I’ve been called Dungeons and Dragon’s Store and every other kind of weird name like Swords and Things…. but the truth of the matter is, it was just a name that was thrown together.”

Makenzie Boettcher | 88Nine Radio Milwaukee

While the right side of the one-stop shop holds the animal rescue, the left contains merchandise Tom has collected or traded over the years.

Tucked away in the heart of West Allis, Swords and Dreams Reptile Rescue is easy to miss on the large street. But after seeing the numerous animals, perusing the miscellaneous items and meeting Tom, usually behind the counter with a cigarette, its a hard one to forget.

In fact, the store is literally a one-stop shop… well, a one-stop shop slash pet store, that is. I mean, where else in Milwaukee can you buy a rescued chinchilla or African snake alongside a baby doll or collectible sword?

One of Swords and Dream's furry rescued animals. Makenzie Boettcher | 88Nine Radio Milwaukee

One of Swords and Dreams Reptile Rescue’s furry rescued animals.

“My plan or goal was, even if you didn’t like what was going on here, you had to find at least something that you liked.”

But walking around the store, I quickly learned that operating the business hasn’t always been so easy for McNeil, who recently put a “For Sale” sign on his beloved store,

“I suffered severe brain damage a few years ago, I was jumped on the way home and saw the receiving end of not knowing who I was for the next two or three years. Sometimes I still have it a little rough.”

McNeil next to his sword collection. Makenzie Boettcher | 88Nine Radio Milwaukee

McNeil and his sword collection

And the end of the day, that’s what’s made him happiest over the years: being able to bring a smile to his customers’ face.

“I dreamed of things and they came true. And I think if you have dreams, you should always follow your dreams. Because you never know, they may come true.”

88Nine Radio Milwaukee
Owner Tom McNeil reflects back on the ups and downs of running his West Allis business

Sword and Dreams Reptile Rescue is in West Allis at 7143 W. Greenfield Ave. For hours and more, visit them on Facebook.