Dog grooming business grew from love of animals

Tater's Spa opens in West Liberty


Tater’s Spa & Pet Grooming & Boarding shop in West Liberty came to reality after 25-year-old West Liberty born and raised Kennedi Simon bought Casey’s Heavenly Grooming on the corner of Maxson Street and U.S. Route 6 (Columbus Street).

Simon, who did much the same thing at Pet Smart in Coralville for the past 3.5 years, heard the business was on the market and found herself the owner of the shop – what she called part of a “five year plan” to get back into her hometown.

An animal lover since she was a youngster, Simon still has five dogs and lots of other little critters in her home, but says Tater, a Corgi, is pretty special.

Simon said business has been “better than expected,” as she combined the former clientele of Diane Richardson with her own loyal clients from Coralville to create the business.

“I’ve been grooming some of those pets since they were eight weeks old,” Simon said, noting she has built a loyal customer base from as far away as North Liberty and Coralville that are now coming to West Liberty to get their dogs groomed.

The business not only offers pet grooming for dogs, but she’s experimenting with grooming cats as well and has taken on small animals like guinea pigs, noting she'll try just about anything. The firm also offers boarding services, Simon taking the pets home for the evening or weekend for customers while they travel.

She decided to call the shop a “Spa” because she wants pets to not only go home looking good by offering them "the works," including a bath and shave, but feeling good, creating a fun environment for the animals and giving them a chance to experience play with other dogs.

Simon says the hours at Tater’s Spa & Pet Grooming & Boarding are “all over the place,” noting she wants to be convenient for the customer and says it’s best to make an appointment by calling 319-430-5869. Simon is assisted at the shop by Lori Miller and former owner Diana Richards, both of which are part-time employees.

The new businesswoman said she grew up around pets and animals, noting her parents lived in a rural area where there were always stray cats and the family always had a pet dog, starting with a Dalmatian. Simon said she always wanted to be a veterinarian growing up, but discovered that was also a lot of schooling to become a doctor and decided she simply wanted to be around pets.Dog grooming was the next best thing.

She also gave some tips on making the right choices when selecting a dog or cat. Simon said it’s important when you’re picking a pet to make sure it matches your lifestyle and personality, noting picking the right breed of dog is vital in connecting with the animal. It can also be a lot more work than you anticipated. “Do your research and be more than prepared to know what you’re getting into,” she said, pointing out training is important. “You need to be up for every task the pet might offer.”

She advised people to get their dog groomed following their first appointment with the veterinarian, at about eight weeks, to get them used to getting groomed.

Simon said it’s important her business treats pets special, noting she likes to create a “personal bond with each dog.”

“I try to treat them like they’re my own,” she said.