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Mon, Oct. 14

Grooming business a 'beauty salon' for dogs

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br>
Vicki Wendt, owner of The Blue Collar Custom Dog Grooming, trims the hair of Freeway, a Shetland sheepdog, Wednesday at her shop in Dewey-Humboldt.

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br> Vicki Wendt, owner of The Blue Collar Custom Dog Grooming, trims the hair of Freeway, a Shetland sheepdog, Wednesday at her shop in Dewey-Humboldt.

Q & A with Vicki Wendt, owner of The Blue Collar Custom Dog Grooming business at 853 S. Dunivin Road, Suite A, Dewey-Humboldt, at the intersection of highways 69 and 169. The business is open Mondays through Saturdays beginning at 8 a.m. until the groomers finish with the dogs. Website: www.

Q: How did you get into this business?

A: "The business was originally opened in October 2003. I began working for the original owner as a groomer in 2004. Although I have been grooming for over 35 years, this is the first time I've owned my own grooming shop. I fell in love with this little shop from the first time I saw it and finally purchased it in March 2005. I could see the potential with all the growth in our area.

"My husband Dan and I really like the small hometown atmosphere we have here in the Dewey-Humboldt area."

Q: What service do you provide in the community?

A: "We provide a dog grooming service for all breeds of dogs. We specialize in only dog grooming. We don't sell a thing but our service. I don't try to compete against the larger box stores in selling product. Service is the name of the game at our shop; it's what we specialize in."

Q: What is the key to your business longevity?

A: "We provide a unique service in the fact that dogs are scheduled in on an appointment time, somewhat like a beauty salon. One groomer is assigned each dog from start to finish. That way, the dog is not having to be handled by several different people. We can finish grooming a dog in a much shorter period of time. Usually it only takes an hour to an hour and a half for most dogs, unlike most grooming establishments that keep dogs caged, waiting their turn to be groomed, for a much longer period of time.

"Our philosophy is the less time a dog has to spend away from home, the less stress the dog is put under.

"Because we take dogs on appointments only, there is not an overflow of dogs in the shop at any one time. This means the noise level is much less, and it means less stress on the dog."

Q: What is the best business advice you've given and received?

A: "My own mother gave me the best business advice ever, which is keep it simple. Provide the very best customer service, and you can't go wrong. And always be honest. It worked very well for me over the years, so I've kept following that advice through the years. When asked, I just pass the same advice on."

Q: What's something unique about you?

A: "I raise and train for the show venue quality Shetland sheepdogs. I compete on a local and national level in the conformation ring at the American Kennel Club dog shows. If I can't get away to a show, I have been known to send them with a professional handler to show them for me. Whenever I can get away, you'll find me at a dog show or at one of our local parks training my up-and-coming puppies."

Q: How are you handling the economy?

A: "We have been very fortunate in our industry. People love their dogs and often will have their dogs groomed before they spend money on themselves, such as having their own haircut. We haven't been as affected as some businesses due to the bad economy.

"We do very little advertising. I believe our service speaks for itself. If you do the job right, word of mouth is the best advertising. Our prices are very competitive with other shops. We don't charge for extras that other shops might charge for. It's all included in one price.

"We do see more of a slowing effect in winter than summer as some of our clients are here for the summer only, then to return to a warmer climate in the winter. We do have a very loyal client base here at our shop. Many have been with us for several years, and some even drive in from Utah, California and the Phoenix area."

Q: If you could take a week away, what would you do?

A: "If I can get a week away, I head for the dog shows. I just love to compete with my dogs. It gives me the opportunity to meet with old friends and measure how I'm doing in my breeding program with my Shelties."

Q: How many hours a week do you work?

A: "I'm fortunate in the fact that I have several very qualified groomers working in my shop. They don't require me to be looking over their shoulders all the time. They know how to get the job done, and they do it very well. I live very close to my shop, and I'm able to get home quickly, which is one of the perks of living in a small community. I myself only groom three to four dogs a day, so I'm out of the shop by 2 p.m. This keeps my patience level very high for some of those difficult-to-groom dogs."

Q: What's something unique about your shop?

A: "One of the unique qualities of our shop is the fact that we hand-dry every dog. We don't have any cage dryers in our shop. I consider them to be dangerous and unnecessary tools in the dog grooming business.

"We often invite our clients to stay and observe how their dogs are being groomed. We deal a lot in dogs with behavioral problems, and usually, if the owner will stay with their dog, that dog will deal with the grooming process much better."

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