After a car accident that knocked out a majority of Kristian Baron’s teeth, she left college just six months before she was set to graduate with a degree in broadcast media. With a TV career no longer in her future, Baron picked up the clippers and began pet grooming over 20 years ago.
Four years ago, Baron purchased Coyote Clipper Expert Pet Grooming located in downtown Vermillion.
Before purchasing Coyote Clipper, Baron worked as a groomer in Sioux City. She said she wanted to open her own shop, but no one was selling.
“It was getting to the point where, well, I really can’t do this for the rest of my life. The only way to go was if maybe one day I can get my own shop,” Barron said. “It wasn’t working. The outlook was dismal.”
Finding a shop to purchase was nearly impossible at first, Barron said, until she and her husband were out at dinner in Vermillion and he mentioned Coyote Clipper.
The previous owner, Barron said, was moving to a different state after finding a new job. She and her family were desperate to sell, and Barron didn’t hesitate.
“’Where’s the paperwork? I’ll sign,’” Barron said. “And we have been in the black since day one.”
Barron is a certified grooming instructor and said having the ability to teach people how to groom has made owning her own shop much easier. Many of her employees came in as novices, Barron said, and she trained and worked with them to elevate her team to high skill levels.
With a fully staffed shop — four groomers besides herself — Barron is now semi-retired and only goes into the shop a few times a week. She is not able to put in the long hours she used to, she said, as grooming is very hard on the body.
“I’m getting older and my hands are crippled with carpal tunnel and my lower back is shot,” Barron said. “I’ve been doing it for like 20 years. I’m breaking down. Thankfully, I have talent in my shop to (do the hard work).”
Having to handle clients and pets who don’t understand what is happening or how to act is challenging, Barron said. While it is rewarding and fun work, she said, there are always hard days.
“People think it’s all puppies and pink bubbles — it so isn’t,” Barron said. “You get pooped on, you get peed on, you get puked on, you get scratched, you get bitten. You have to have the ability to rise above that.”
Every pet is different, Barron said. Some really despise coming to get groomed, while others like Zoe, a golden retriever, can hardly contain their excitement.
“We see her up the window, she bounces around in his car,” Barron said. “She can’t wait to get in. She runs up to the door, tail wagging, 50 miles an hour — she loves it. But I wouldn’t say she’s the majority.”
While Zoe loves to be groomed, other dogs can be scared. Barron said they allow extra time for dogs who need more time to relax. Groomers have to treat the dogs like dogs and give them time to behave like dogs, Barron said.
Pet owners are not allowed in the shop while their pets are being groomed, as it can distract the pet, Barron said. Because they already don’t let owners in the shop, Barron said, no changes had to be made to Coyote Clipper when COVID-19 hit, and they have been able to stay successful throughout the pandemic.
“I’ve got to thank God or goddess or the universe — whatever is out there,” Barron said. “I have to thank them that this business is up and running and popular and doing well.”
For all the bites, scratches, accidents and hard days, Barron said seeing families’ reaction to their pets makeover makes it all worth it.
“It’s amazing to see their faces and to build that network in a small town,” Barron said. “We have an extremely good relationship (with our customers). We love our clients and we love our dogs. We’re always appreciative of them.”