You know this is a different kind of business when the greeters at the door are two sleek Italian greyhounds, eager for an ear rub or two.
But that is just part of the homey atmosphere Kate and Tony Barker have created at their eponymously named dog grooming parlor — The Barker Shop.
The couple started the shop about two years ago in a rented space on Third Street. A few weeks ago they moved into a building just blocks away at 923 S. Third St., that they now own.
Dog grooming is a business that in recent years has seen changes going from requests for simple bathing to elaborate clipping styles. There are kennel cuts, where the length is basically the same overall, to a variety of show cuts, the kinds that are for dogs who compete.
“The pet industry is so huge,” Kate Barker said. “Everybody wants their pets to look good. There are different clothing and necklaces.”
The reason for the growth comes partly from pet owners looking at their dogs and cats as members of the family, Tony Barker says.
“With the Baby Boomers, their children have left home. Their dogs are their children now,” he said. “And grooming is a part of their health too.”
Also celebrities like Paris Hilton have made what Kate calls “pocketbook dogs,” stylish, pooches that become a part of an outfit.
The Barker Shop is a full-service shop offering clipping, bathing and brushing for both dogs and cats — the latter is becoming a growing staple of the pet grooming industry.
One client had her cat clipped because she had young children who liked to crawl on the floor and didn’t want all those cat hairs around.
Among the special touches at The Barker Shop is that they use high velocity blowers instead of heat dryers for the safety of the animals. The couple can have an animal ready in three hours, which cuts down on the stress the animal may experience during a grooming.
However, customers can drop their pets off in the morning and pick them up at the end of the day, if they wish.
“Safety is one of the first things we take seriously,” “Pets are family members.”