Small Business

Beach Doggies finds grooming success on island

BRADENTON BEACH -- TariLyn Anderson jokingly says she could throw a softball between every dog groomer lining the streets from Longboat Key to Anna Maria.

But she has a few tricks to separate herself from the competition.

Now operating the eighth dog grooming boutique of her career, Anderson owns AMI Beach Doggies at 2501 Gulf Drive N in Bradenton Beach.

The boutique caters to Manatee's furry friends with services that range from washing to grooming, ear cleaning and even spa treatments.

With a small staff that sees its customers as family, a passion for pups and popular marketing specials, AMI Beach Doggies has seen business climb steadily since opening its doors last summer.

"We always vacationed and played in Anna Maria Island," Anderson said Friday. "I always said when I retire, I'm going to open a business here and live my dream."

She did just that.

Anderson purchased the Bradenton Beach storefront on tax day last year, and following some renovations, opened in July 2011.

With granite counter-tops and marble floors, Anderson strives to make her clients feel like their pets are being treated as well as they would be at home.

The grooming boutique pulls a strong base of customers from permanent islanders and tourists. Beach Doggies also draws mainland patrons by giving them a towel, chair, umbrella and bottle of water so they can enjoy the beach while their best friend is pampered.

The boutique gives canine customers a stuffed cupcake toy on their birthday, frequent gift basket giveaways and a 10 percent discount special when two appointments are booked at once.

"We always have some kind of promotion going on, and people like that, especially on the island," said Anderson, who has seven dogs herself. "It's a small world here."

AMI Beach Doggies

charges based on the size of the dog, condition of the coat and services requested. There's no set prices.

On a good day, the boutique will take in 13 dogs. But not every day is a good day, Anderson said.

She estimates about 80 percent of the dogs are there for grooming, while the remainder come through the door for some type of pet spa treatment.

The business also offers $5 nail trims. All of those proceeds, along with a house match, go to a different local charity each month. The program netted $320 for Kitty Corner last month alone.

Those specials have helped Beach Doggies combat the competition.

"It seems a lot of people out there have a love for pets, and this is what they want to do," Anderson said. "But it's easy to distinguish against groomers, and people who call themselves groomers."

The boutique has two other employees: Oscar Rivera, the manager and bather, and Marilyn "Jules" Sellers, the top groomer.

The employees say it's a family atmosphere.

"Coming to work is like a vacation," said Sellers, who's been grooming dogs for 17 years. "It's paradise."

Josh Salman, Herald business writer, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @JoshSalman