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The Ins and Outs of Opening a Grooming Shop

Opening a small business these days is no small effort. It requires a lot of planning, time and gumption. The grooming industry is no different.

Dogs in the Rrruff is a small grooming shop in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Owned and operated by Kathleen Burke and Maura (Mo) Doyle, this shop offers a unique grooming business model that's not typically seen in the pet industry.

Their business model offers a great example for how to get your business going.


Know your location and build your business around it. If, like Dogs in the Rrruff, you decide to open shop in a downtown setting you should probably focus on maintaining a boutique-type feel. Your shop should echo the same feeling as the other shops around it.


Dogs in the Rrruff chose to brand their business using a similar color palette as a popular tourist location in the town. This way their business “fits in” while still standing out.

They also were aware of the foot-traffic on the busy street where they're opening up shop, and installed a DOG-i-Pot waste bag dispenser and a bowl with water for those walking by with their furry friends.

Build relationships

Take a look at the other shops in the community you plan on opening in. Are there other pet-related businesses? If so, rather than competing directly with them, work with them and develop a list of products and services that complement theirs. This way you will be building a relationship rather than an enemy.

Dogs in the Rrruff is located in an area that has more than one successful pet retail shops. As such, this clever grooming shop offers training services (including a certification class in Canine CPR) instead of a retail section. This way they’re working within their community and can complement rather than compete with their business neighbors.

Offer unique services

Think outside the box when creating a list of what services you’ll offer.

Obviously you’ll want the basics, but if there is a sp something you are particularly good at, include it even if it may not seem like an obvious choice.

Kathleen Burke from Dogs in the Rrruff is a talented artist. To help her shop stand out from the rest, she has included an “Arts in the Rrruff” section to display her pet portraits to customers as they drop off and pick up their pets.

She plans to hold art gallery evenings with other local artists.


Focus on education

Remember that there’s a reason that your customers bring their pets to you. You are the expert and they rely on your experience and education.

This relationship puts you in an excellent position to educate your customers on what’s best for their pets. You’ll find that the better you’re able to inform your customers, the better business will be.

Dogs in the Rrruff informs each customer of best grooming practices and offers helpful suggestions and tips for pet owners. They also offer a wide selection of training classes from basic puppy training up to more advanced classes like Canine CPR. They also hold seminars for those in the industry to keep up to date on best practices such as anal gland expressing and pet dental training.

Know your limitations

Don’t try to do everything. Find out what you and your staff are best at and stick to that. Trying to offer too many services just dilutes the quality of the service.

Dogs in the Rrruff’s owners are able to maintain an ideal balance. Each groomer focuses on what she is best at and helps the other. They only offer services that they have a strong background in and have a veterinary technician come in once a week to offer special services.

Harness the power of social media/websites

If your business doesn’t have a website or Facebook account, ask yourself why? These days, it is easier than ever to connect with a large customer base with just a bit of effort and time. If you’re not overly Internet savvy, have an employee or a friend give you a hand. You’ll be amazed at the difference.

Dogs in the Rrruff’s website features information on the shop, will display pictures of finished grooming, and even has a blog where the owners can connect with their customers in a friendly, casual manner.

Most of all … good luck!

Opening a new shop anywhere is never an easy feat and we salute entrepreneurs like you who strive to follow their dreams and make a difference in their communities. PetEdge works hard to support the little guy with our wide selection of low-cost grooming supplies. Whatever your needs, we have the products that will help you get the job done.

Shop our 17,000 new products at


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