Most customers realize that Pet Safari offers pet grooming, but what they don’t know is the history that brought them where they are today.
Pet Safari originally started as a pet grooming business in 1972. Two years before that, Linda, mother of three boys, told her husband Steve, that she wanted to learn to either cut men’s hair or learn to groom dogs. Linda said, “The next day he signed me up at the American School of Dog Grooming, in Detroit”. She attended classes three days a week to learn her craft and hone her skills. Linda loved grooming and would groom pets, for friends and neighbors, in her utility room. A year after graduation she, and her husband Steve, moved from their hometown, in Michigan, to Clearwater, Florida. Within a few months they opened their first grooming salon, called Shaggy Dog.
Linda continued learning her trade and over the next few years attended several workshops and seminars to further her training. During that time she continued training and became one of Florida’s first Certified Master Groomers. Eighteen years later, they relocated the shop in LaBelle plaza and renamed it Pet Safari. By then it had grown into a full-line pet store—offering a plethora of furry friends, colorful freshwater fish, hand-fed birds and all the best in quality pet products. And yet, the business has kept to its roots: providing professional grooming with a personal touch. “We use the highest quality shampoos and conditioners, and the dogs are groomed to breed standards,” Linda said. “The care of the animal is the most important thing. When we hire a groomer, they have at least five years experience, and I work very closely with them. Our main objectives are professional quality and personal service.” The store currently employs two full-time groomers and one part-time groomer.
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Since Pet Safari deals with a variety of other animals, and associated pet products, there is a continual learning experience. The management team hires knowledgeable, well trained salespeople.
“It’s always good to have employees that you can learn from too. That’s important,” Linda said. “We always hire people that are very knowledgeable.” Pet Safari also offers locally bred puppies, available from the Schuler’s own client base. “They’re all home-raised puppies. We do not deal with any puppies from out of state whatsoever,” Linda said. “We know exactly where they came from and who raised them.”
The store also hand-feeds many of their birds, including cockatiels, lovebirds and parakeets. The hand-feeding process allows the birds to bond easily with humans.” They’re very friendly with people that way,” Linda said. These days, Steve and Linda work with their son, David, who is the store manager. His two children—Brittany, who recently headed off to boot camp with the Marines, and Joey, a high school student—have also helped out in the family business.
What’s the family secret to four decades of continual success? “We provide quality work and stay very conscious of the dogs and animals,” Linda said. “People trust us. That’s the important thing.” Groomer Christine Hicks poses with Stanley before he receives his weekly bath and brushing.