TRAVERSE CITY — Susie Penney was just 24 in 1977 when she decided to leave her job and open Traverse City’s first dog grooming salon in a tiny Front Street storefront.
The Clipper is still going strong thousands of dogs later. The salon celebrated its 37th anniversary on May 1.
“I had been working for a vet, and we kept getting requests for grooming,” Penney said. “There was no place in town, so I decided to go to Detroit for school, got trained and opened for business.”
The Clipper is still located in its original space at 441 E. Front St. where Penney started with a single dryer, table and tub. Today, the salon is lined with retail products, 10 dryers, three tables and two tubs, as well as three employees who work with her to groom an average 20 to 35 dogs per-day six days a week. It’s not unusual to pass several recently groomed canines, sporting colorful scarves, waiting to be picked up while others are taking their turns in the bathtub or on a clipping table.
“I love the dogs … and I love coming to work,” Penney said, adding her philosophy is to "work hard and play hard."
“It’s a real fun job,” she said. “It’s hard work and we work a lot of hours, but it’s also fun … and I know we’re doing good for the dogs.”
Dogs and their owners travel to The Clipper from homes throughout northwest Michigan. The shop is known for handling rare breed dogs and special clipping services in addition to traditional dog grooming. Clients’ clipping schedules are as varied as the breeds, with some coming in as often as weekly while others are considered ‘once a year dogs’ that receive annual trims before summer heat hits.
“That’s when a lot of the Labradors you see outdoors are actually Golden Retrievers,” Penney said.