Self-service dog wash proves a hit
There’s nothing like a little “mansplaining” to make washing a slippery, wiggling dog, more fun.
At least that’s true at Indra’s Place, a self-service dog wash facility on Elliott Street in Hamilton.
Owner Indra Smith finds that first-timers can get a little intimidated by the high-tech baths, so there is an electronic narrator to walk the client through the entire process: “Rinse one, approximate time two minutes.”
Ms Smith said: “They can choose between the voice of former President Barack Obama, President Donald Trump, Morgan Freeman or Sean Connery. Morgan Freeman is really popular.”
Ms Smith opened Indra’s Place in April 2017 as a less expensive option to a professional groomer.
“My dog Snoop was always getting dirty,” she said. “He finds creative ways to get into stuff.”
Because he was short haired she didn’t feel a professional grooming was always necessary. But like a lot of dogs, Snoop wasn’t too keen on the chilly water coming out of the garden hose outdoors, and bathing him indoors in the tub was a backache waiting to happen. Curious, she started looking on the internet for other options.
“I was just looking for something convenient, and something easy for me,” she said. “And if I needed it, I thought other people might want it too.”
She decided to open a dog wash, a concept she’d seen while going to college in the United States, years ago.
“The self-service dog wash has been a staple in the US for years,” Ms Smith said. “There was one near my college but I didn’t like to use it often because it always smelled terrible. I really enjoy when people come to Indra’s Place for the first time and comment that it smells good.”
She operates out of a small shop between Pasta Basta and Wee Care Paediatrics.
Clients pay a $50 annual membership fee which gets them a swipe card and 24-hour access to Indra’s Place. With membership, it costs $20 for a 10-minute dog wash. All the amenities are provided including towels, soap, conditioner, flea wash, and bathtub disinfectant, plus two blow-dry options.
“I have approximately 30 members who come in and out who do their own stuff,” she said.
Customer Sheila Gringley likes to bring her golden retrievers, Hannah and Hayleigh, to Indra’s Place twice a week.
“I call it the dog laundry,” Ms Gringley laughed. “I have a bad back and this way I don’t have to bend over. Also, there are two tubs and I have two dogs. It is inexpensive and they get a good bath.”
It usually takes her eight to ten minutes to bathe each dog.
Hannah and Hayleigh do pet therapy work at Hope Academy and sometimes Agape House, so it’s important they always look and smell their best.
One of Ms Smith’s challenges is when multiple dog owners use the facility at the same time.
“One lady came and had a really tiny dog,” she said. “She was using one machine, and someone else was using the other for a large rottweiler. The dogs were fine but the lady with the small dog was scared of the rottweiler.”
So far, Ms Smith hasn’t advertised much, but relied on word of mouth.
She is a guest entrepreneur with Ignite, the island’s first privately funded business accelerator, and hopes to get into their next cohort.
“I’ve learnt so much,” she said. “I love being in the hub. It makes working much less lonely and everyone’s so inspiring. When I get into cohort two, I will get to experience the full programme.
“There are so many entrepreneurs facing the same problems, but we don’t know it because we’re all trying to keep it professional. Ignite removes those walls we’ve put up and helps us find our own path.”
For more information, see Indra’s Place on Facebook and Instagram or www.indrasplace.com
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