STURGIS — Tiffany Smith got into dog grooming by accident.
But she’s parlayed that accident into a full-time business with the opening of Paws on Main in downtown Sturgis.
She refers to her business, located in the old Bank building at 1100 Main St., as an upscale, one-on-one grooming salon and pet boutique. In addition to grooming, she offers doggie coats, dog beds, toys and treats.
At Paws on Main a pet parent makes an appointment for an appointed hour for the grooming. At other grooming places, dogs are often brought to the salon in the morning and picked up late afternoon, Smith said.
Smith had operated Dogwood Lodge Pet Resort off Vanocker Canyon Road in Sturgis for nearly eight years.
When she sold the business, the new owner said she could keep the grooming equipment.
“I was not planning on doing this necessarily, I assumed whoever bought the business, would buy all of it. I realized I had a client base and all of my equipment, I just need a place,” she said.
Finding a location for the grooming business proved more difficult than Smith had imagined. Even in her new location, she will have to pack up and move out for a month around the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
But she’s excited to be in downtown Sturgis.
“It’s been great,” she said.
The happy accident of becoming a groomer actually began when Smith hired a groomer for Dogwood Lodge. That person went off to college. In an attempt to find someone to replace her groomer, Smith found out that groomers are in high demand.
“Every business around the country is looking for groomers, but they just don’t find them” she said.
Groomer is a difficult profession, Smith said.
“It’s hard work. It’s somewhat of a dying art,” she said.
She finally realized that she could probably do the grooming herself.
“I have a close friend who is an amazing groomer in Rapid City. I said to her, ‘if I take this on will you mentor me?’”
The friend said she would, but told Smith she would do just fine.
Smith is now certified through the American Kennel Club S.A.F.E. Grooming Program. She is also a member of the International Professional Groomers, Inc.
Smith says to be a good groomer you need to understand dog structure.
“With showing dogs, I understand structure really well. If you understand structure, you understand how the coat is supposed to lay,” she said.
Smith’s breed of choice is Briards. She currently has three of them including Burbon who loves accompanying Smith to her new shop and lounging.
Smith said she initially opened Dogwood Lodge because she saw a need in the community.
“There was no place in Sturgis at the time. I thought that if I had a need, then someone else probably has a need,” she said.
Smith said she decided to step away from the resort business because of family reasons.
Owning a resort which offers boarding and daycare is a seven-day-a-week, 365-days a year venture.
The resort was on the market for about three years. Smith said there was some initial interest, but nothing serious.
“Once they found out the amount of work that actually goes into it, they realized that maybe they didn’t want to be married to a business,” she said.
During the seven years Smith owned the business, she said she never celebrated Thanksgiving or Christmas morning with her family.
“You’re the busiest during the holidays, weekends, spring break, graduations and all of those things,” she said.
But this year, after the business sold in November, she had that Christmas morning experience again.
“We got to get up and shuffle out in our jammies and had coffee Christmas morning together. It was really lovely,” she said.
To read all of today's stories, Click here or call 642-2761 to subscribe to our e-edition or home delivery.