October 1, 2012 by Christina Hamlett
A Conversation with Maggie King
(seen here with Susan Chamberlain’s “Dexter”)
The U.S. economy may be spiraling downward faster than water in a bathtub drain but it hasn’t stopped pet owners from indulging the four-footed members of their family. According to a recent survey by the American Pet Product Association, we spend over $40 billion annually to keep our best friends happy, healthy, safe…and well groomed.
Maggie King, owner/operator of The Pink Poodle Pet Grooming Salon in Sheridan, Oregon, shares a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on when you drop off your dog for a sweet-smelling day of pampering.
Q: Let’s start out with what inspired you to open your business and how you went about advertising and attracting your first customers.
A: I’ve always been a dog lover extraordinaire. I’m also a writer and all of my stories include at least one dog. The Pink Poodle (which I opened 2-1/2 years ago) is the second grooming shop I’ve owned. I started The Shaggy Dog in Dallas, Oregon when I was 21 years old and fresh out of pet grooming school. When I opened the Pink Poodle I attracted customers the same way I did when I opened The Shaggy Dog – I ran a “Pet-of-the-Week” ad in the local newspaper. Owners absolutely love seeing their dog’s picture in the newspaper! Potential customers would see the ad and call the shop hinting that their dog would make a great “pet-of-the-week.”
Q: What do you know now that you wished you had known when you started?
A: I wished I’d learned how to groom sitting down! Grooming is very physical and when you stand on your feet all day, it can be hard on your body. Many groomers learn how to groom while sitting but I can’t do it. It feels weird to me to sit and scissor.
Q: You have a longstanding love for critters large and small. What were some of the first pets you had when you were growing up and what kinds of animals share your life now?
A: My very first dog was a flower-bed destroying dachshund named Jingles. Since then I’ve owned many dogs including a collie, a Rottweiler, a yellow lab, a beagle, and a toy poodle. I currently have three dogs now: an American Eskimo, an Aussie cowdog mix, and a standard poodle puppy named Pawlette.
Q: What type of services does your business offer?
A: We do all-breed dog grooming ~ from Newfies to Chihuahuas. If a dog will fit in our tub, we’ll groom it!
Q: Do you do everything yourself or do you have helpers?
A: There are three of us at The Pink Poodle. My husband, John, is the bather and all-around “Big Dog Wrangler” and Nichole and I are the finish groomers.
Q: What’s something about the pet grooming business that most people don’t know?
A: You can make a very good living as a pet groomer if you are willing to work hard. A small grooming shop can easily earn six-figures/year.
Q: If someone wanted to open a grooming salon, what advice would you give them about the realities of the business, the type of training needed, and any licensing requirements?
A: Currently a pet groomer does not need to be licensed or certified. However, I wholeheartedly encourage people to get professional training. I went to the Western Vocational School of Dog Grooming in Eugene, Oregon in the 1970’s and it was probably the best thing I ever did because it gave me confidence knowing I always had a good way to support myself. Petco and Petsmart offer on-the-job training and there are many grooming schools across the United States. Also, many grooming shops will hire you as a bather and then teach you how to groom.
Q: In these tough economic times, there are probably lots of pet owners that think they can save money by going the DIY route. Why is this not necessarily a smart idea?
A:Owners sometimes try grooming their own dog a time or two but then they usually end up calling me in a panic to fix the mess they made! One owner called me all upset because after she’d given her dog a bad haircut the poor thing acted all embarrassed and she was afraid she’d scarred his psyche!
Q: What’s the most challenging dog-client you’ve had so far?
A: The hardest dog we groom at The Pink Poodle is a three-pound Chihuahua named Chloe! She rules with an Iron Paw.
Q: How do you calm down dogs that are nervous about their first grooming experience?
A: Yes, we do get a few Nervous Nellies in the shop sometimes. The best thing we’ve found is to just sit with the dog for awhile without trying to trim their nails, etc. Just sit quietly with them. Pretty soon the tail starts to wag.
Q: What do you most look forward to every day when you go to work?
A: Just being with the dogs. I love sending home a freshly groomed doggie ’cause I know they are going to get lots of positive attention — and most likely will get to sleep on the bed that night!
Q: If your dog-clients could speak, what do you think they’d say about you?
A: “Maggie is pretty nice ’cause she always sends me home with a yummy cookie.”
Q: Anything else readers should know?
A: The Pink Poodle Pet Grooming Salon is open Tuesday through Saturday 8 am – 5 pm.
Our website is www.pinkpoodlepetgrooming.com and you can also find us on Facebook: The Pink Poodle – A Pet Grooming Salon. Our Facebook page includes the Pooch Parade (a portfolio of hundreds of dogs we’ve groomed).