Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Local Business: The Studio Grooming Salon

This past Tuesday I visited The Studio Grooming Salon, a new business here in Four Corners.  Opened in January of this year, The Studio is a grooming salon that caters to all kinds of dogs, focusing on those needing specialty service due to anxiety or illness.  I spoke with the owner of The Studio, Sarah Watkins, about how she grew her business from an at-home grooming operation to an independent dog salon with two locations (one here in Four Corners, and one in Middleburg, VA).

The Studio Grooming Salon is located at 10124 Colesville Road, across from the Woodmoor Shopping Center.  Photo by the author

Sarah grew up in nearby Colesville and got into dog grooming when she was in high school.

"My sister had a dog that got really anxious and couldn't go to a groomer... so we found someone that came to the house and did it there... I would watch her [the groomer] and ask a bunch of questions about the process."

She explained how she learned from that groomer, and was motivated to enroll in a local grooming school to learn more about the trade.  She attended the Silver Spring School of Dog Grooming and began her home service grooming company, All Good Dogs, in 2001.  After doing that for 4 years, she went to college at the University of Mississippi and graduated with a degree in Real Estate Finance & Economics in 2009.  While in college, Sarah did grooming in Mississippi and expanded her business upon returning to the DC area.

"I was a grooming manager at a very upscale vet clinic in Oxford, Mississippi, and when I came back I was working a regular 9-5 job in accounting.  On the weekends I started picking up clients, so my parents converted part of their carriage house to a grooming salon for me."

Groomer Danielle trims the hair of this Bichon.  Photo by the author.

Sarah ran her business out of her "Notley Road salon" in Colesville beginning in 2009, opening a new location in Middleberg VA in 2012.  Last year, the storefront here in Four Corners that was formerly Free State Press became available for rent after that businesses moved out.  Sarah saw an opportunity to open a new salon closer to many of her existing clients in the greater Silver Spring area who she had been serving at the Notley Road salon.  She saw Four Corners as an ideal location to move her business into its own commercial space, as it was near many of her existing clients, and in an area where many people own dogs.  

"I love the storefront and the intersection and the community so I thought it was perfect."

Because the building had formerly been a print shop, converting the space into a dog salon was not too difficult.  For example; the floor already had large drains to dispose of water from printing operations, which are convenient for draining the water used to bathe dogs.  After securing the necessary permits, build-out of the shop took about 90 days, which mostly involved running plumbing and adding some new walls and cabinets.  The salon was ready for business by January 1st, when it opened for clients.

Sarah said that the location of the space was also a big draw, given the length of time it takes to groom dogs and the number of things her clients can do while their dogs are being tended to.  

  "Because the dog is usually done in and hour and a half, its fantastic that we've got all these restaurants nearby.  A lot of our clients will come after work, drop the dog off, go to the Corner Pub and grab a beer and a burger, or go get some chicken or some sushi or some Chipotle... and that works out really well" adding that "There's lots of stuff to do within 90 minutes"

Tina, another groomer at the salon, grooms a Bichon.

Nearby businesses also complement the salon's presence, such as Fetch Pet Care and the Four Corners Animal Hospital, which are both dog-related places within a short walk of The Studio.

Speaking about the kinds of dogs she has cared for, Sarah explained how The Studio is different from most groomers in that her salon focuses on dogs that may not be able to go to regular groomers for a variety of reasons.  

"Because we're a specialty salon, we specifically advertise for dogs requiring specially service... such as dogs that get a lot of hand scissoring... we hand strip Terriers, and a lot of places don't hand strip Terriers"  The Studio also cares for many rescue dogs, which are often more skittish or anxious than other dogs. "There are a lot of rescue dogs here.  It's just the nature of the community... it's just a very rescue-friendly community.  In that way it's really good for us, since we're such a perfect fit for this specific community"    

Speaking to her relationship with her clients, Sarah explained how it's important that clients trust their groomer with their dog.  

"We have some people whose dogs are very anxious or have physical disabilities such as heart problems... so you end up forming a special relationship with your groomer because they trust me to deal their sick or really anxious pet"

"... we have some people who pickup their dogs afterwards and they're crying because they're so happy that they found some place safe"

Sarah describes her work as very fulfilling, since clients whose dogs need special attention often turn to her when they can't find anyone else to care for their dogs.

"We do regular dogs all the time, but it's being able to help those people who don't have any other options that really means a lot."

The Studio has several grooming and bathing stations.  Photo by the author.

The Studio Grooming Salon is open Tuesday-Thursday 11:00 AM-8:30 PM and Friday-Saturday 10:00 AM-5:00 PM.  Appointments can be made by calling their phone number at 301-593-0212, or by filling out this form on their website.  Please join me in supporting this great local business!


  1. My SIL has taken her dog there a few times and has been very impressed!

  2. This place is great. Really nice cuts and the groomers are gentle with anxious dogs.

  3. Without question, the best groomer in town.

  4. The large drains in the building likely date back to the original tenant "Four Corners Pharmacy" which originally featured a lunch counter with a soda/ice cream bar. As kids in the '50s, we would get a tall glass of Coke that was hand-mixed from raw Coca-Cola syrup by "Doc." We also enjoyed many a ice cream sundae. The "Peoples Drug Store" across the street in Woodmoor also had a lunch counter with soda bar in the '40s and '50s.

  5. Nice article. Have heard good things about them.

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