For the past 19 years, Kathy Ebben has been grooming Waunakee area dogs, making friends with them and their owners, some who have even taken her dogs to the vet while she’s working. Some longtime clients are now on pet three, four and five, she said.
But Sept. 30, she will close Ship Shape Pet Grooming LLC, the business she’s operated since 2002. The building owner intends to renovate the space for his own use and has not renewed her lease.
“Oct. 15, 19 years ago, was when I first opened. I still remember who the first client was and the dog’s name,” Ebben said.
Ebben has been unable to find the right space in the area for her business. She said she’s consulted with Realtors and village officials in her search but has found the spaces are too large and the rent too expensive, or the owners do not permit pets. She’s sad to close the shop, she said, adding that like a hair salon owner, she’s built relationships with her customers.
Ebben estimates she has an average of 150 regular clients, and typically in September, she books the pups’ appointments for the year.
“That keeps their coats maintained and then they can keep the dogs fluffy,” she said.
Ebben, whose Chesapeake retrievers are ever present at the shop, noted that some of her clients have become friends. One standard poodle hangs out with her dogs at Ship Shape sometimes.
“She’s part of the family,” Ebben said.
Another dog smiles at Ebben when his owner brings him in.
“He’s happy to see me,” she said, adding some are less so but they tolerate the washing and sheering.
Through her 19 years in Waunakee, Ebben has been active in the community, providing demonstrations and tours for school classes. She has a scrapbook filled with articles about Ship Shape and thank you notes she’s collected throughout the years.
Ebben is now looking for work at a Madison-area grooming shop. She advises her clients to look up Ship Shape’s Facebook page and keep in touch.