Business news from the Fredericksburg region.
Mobile groomers are going to the dogs
IT’S THE THIRD stop of the day for a new mobile dog grooming service, and Oliver, a bright-eyed Shih Tzu, is standing on one of its grooming tables.
Sarah Drouin, a nationally certified groomer, scissors his silky brown and white fur close to his torso to make him appear slimmer, but leaves the leg hair fuller so his slightly “easty–westy” pointing feet look straight.
“Grooming is not only maintenance, but trying to make the dog look its best,” she says.
She and owner Kelley Wagnon, a nationally certified master groomer, began operating Wednesday out of a specially modified white E–450 Ford truck emblazoned with the name Wag On Mobile Grooming, a playful take on Wagnon’s name and business.
The truck also serves as a mobile ad since it includes the company’s phone number, 540/848-6545, and
Web address, WagOnMobile Grooming.com. It’s already attracted new customers in addition to those like Cindy Carpenter of Stafford County, who’s had Wagnon and Drouin groom Oliver and Enzo, her older Shih Tzu, at a local salon for years.
“They’re great with the dogs,” Carpenter said. “They cut them really well, and the dogs love them.”
She said that having the groomers come to her house meant that she didn’t have to face the county’s busy traffic and she could get things done at home while the truck was parked in her driveway.
Wagnon and Drouin, both 25, used to work at Gone to the Dogs Pet Salon on Garrisonville Road. When the ownership changed, they decided to venture out on their own.
“It inspired us to get our own thing going,” Wagnon said. “I had worked there seven years and Sarah had been there a year or so.”
Wagnon said they decided to go the mobile route, something a handful of other area groomers have chosen, because it would be convenient for their customers and less stressful for the dogs.
“They don’t have to hear other dogs barking, there’s no car ride, which some dogs hate, and they can go right home,” Drouin said.
Wagnon bought Wag On Mobile Grooming’s truck from Wag’n Tails, an Indiana company specializing in mobile pet grooming conversions. Inside is a stainless steel bathtub with running water, two grooming tables, a high-velocity dryer with a retractable hose, even a fridge, microwave and bathroom.
“It has all the space that I need,” she said.
Having her own business also means that she and Drouin can arrange their schedules so they’ll have time to attend seminars on dog grooming and compete in grooming shows, sometimes using clients’ dogs.
Both women are certified by the National Dog Groomers Association of America, which has offered continuing educational workshops and certification testing since 1988. They’ve learned the correct look for standard breeds, but can modify them according to a client’s wishes.
“Just because you have a national certification doesn’t mean you can stop there,” Drouin said. “Techniques and styles,” Wagnon added, “are always changing.”
The two are bonded and can groom dogs when owners aren’t home. But they aren’t licensed, because Virginia, like many states, does not require this for groomers. Anyone, they said, can call himself a groomer.
Wagnon and Drouin currently will drive the mobile van to customers in Fredericksburg and the counties
of Stafford and Spotsylvania. Prices start at $65, but depend on the size of the dog and what the owner wants.
“I enjoy grooming,” said Drouin. “You get to watch this dog go from nothing to a million bucks—and you did it. You can see it right there.”
Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407