Auto parts store turned dog groomer is “true American success story”

KIMBALL TWP. – It all started when Karen Feldhouse took her 401(k) from her factory job and invested it into a brand new garage, dog grooming salon included, at her home. 

Now she has a building on Griswold Road in Kimball Township, six groomers and two bathers who work with her at her business Gone To The Dogs Grooming. 

“A true American success story, from your garage to eight employees!,” her husband, Fred Feldhouse, said in an email. 

How Feldhouse’s business went to the dogs

Karen Feldhouse worked at a plastic factory for 18 years before she was finally through with it. 

“I just got tired of being bossed around and the humdrum of it,” she said, and “I just wanted to be my own boss.” 

So she decided to go to school and enrolled at the Michigan School of Canine Cosmetology out of Lansing. 

Through the school Feldhouse underwent a 600-hour course that took her roughly 3.5 months to complete, staying in Lansing during the week and coming home for the weekends. 

She learned the different haircuts, like Schnauzer and poodles, how to clean ears and other dog grooming needs. 

The first day was just a day of bathing the dogs, she said. 

She graduated from the school on Oct. 31, 2003, and on Nov. 1, 2003, opened Gone To The Dogs Grooming. 

It got so busy she couldn’t keep it up out of her home. So she moved from there to a location on Lapeer Road in 2011 and started hiring groomers. 

“It just escalated from there,” she said. 

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That location ended up not having enough space for the groomers’ needs. The whole building on Lapeer Road was 930 square feet, but the new Griswold Road location has 820 square feet just for the grooming room, Feldhouse said.

How the business got to Griswold Road 

The business moved into the new location at 4542 Griswold Road, formerly Frenchy’s Auto Parts Inc., during the first week of December. Feldhouse bought the building and got the keys on Aug. 15. 

It took the Feldhouses, their friends and family, “15 weeks of hard labor, blood, sweat and tears to do this,” Karen Feldhouse said. 

She thinks she invested about $175,000 overall into the new location, with the building costing about $135,000 and putting additional money into renovations. 

She said she wants something she can retire with so this place will be her “nest egg to retire on.” 

For now though she doesn’t want to just sit at home in her rocking chair and works three days a week to keep the place up and clean, she said.

The future plans for the grooming business includes potentially hiring another groomer in the spring and further improvements on the site like siding on the building and putting asphalt in the driveway. 

“It took me 16 years to get this far, so what’s a couple more,” Karen Feldhouse said. 

What the customers have to say 

Some customers have been taking their dogs to Feldhouse for more than a decade, including Kimball Township resident Linda VanDyke. 

“I’ve been with her since she was in her garage,” VanDyke said. 

She had never owned a dog before that needed haircuts before she got Bindie, her now 14-year-old Bichon Frise. 

She looked in the phone book for someone local she could take Bindie to and found Feldhouse’s business. 

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VanDyke was a little nervous and asked if she could stay and watch Karen Feldhouse groom her dog. Karen Feldhouse said yes was very kind and compassionate and compassionate. 

“It was just a great experience,” VanDyke said. 

Now she takes Bindie, her three other dogs and two relative’s dogs to the Kimball Township groomer.

Her dog goes from a “shaggy furball” to looking so nice and clean after the groomer, VanDyke said. They all come out of the groomer with bandannas and when she had a standard poodle the groomer would even paint its nails for her. 

“Karen is just great,” VanDyke said. “I’ve referred her to many, many dog owners.” 

She has never gone to another groomer and always takes her dogs to Feldhouse to get “cute” for the holidays. 

“I know mine are going to be well taken care of,” she said. 

Jason Erickson, a Port Huron resident, had similar feelings. 

He has also taken his dogs to Feldhouse for grooming since she was doing it at home, but he has gone to other places too. 

He’s been other places that he wouldn’t name but the dogs had cuts in their armpits and would limp from short nail trimmings after getting groomed. 

When he goes to Feldhouse “these guys come back spotless pretty much every time,” he said. 

He definitely trusts his “babies” with her and it’s awesome that Feldhouse has grown her garage to this.

“She deserves it,” he said. 

Kelly Lashbrook also had negative experiences with other groomers in the past, but when she came to Feldhouse with her concerns, the groomer told her she could stay while she was grooming her dog. 

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Lashbrook knew then this was a good person and Feldhouse made her feel very comfortable, she said. 

“I would never go anywhere else,” Lashbrook said. “I’ve found my groomer for life, hands down.” 

More information on Gone To The Dogs Grooming 

Gone To The Dogs Grooming accepts dogs and cats for bathing, drying, grooming, checking anal glands, trimming nails and more. Customers do need to make special appointments for cats. 

People can come in and just get nails trimmed and Feldhouse said they can trim 20 animals’ nails in a day. They’ve done nails for guinea pigs, rabbits and cats. 

Prices vary as one dog might cost $45 to groom but another dog that has a lot of matted fur and hasn’t been groomed before might cost more. 

“You have to charge accordingly,” Feldhouse said. 

Time varies for bathing the dogs, but it’s usually around an hour or two.  On a busy day they can get 35 to 40 dogs in one day, she said. 

The business is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. 

For more information on Gone To The Dogs Grooming, call (810) 982-3121 or visit its Facebook page. 

Bryce Airgood is the business reporter for the Times Herald. Have questions or a story idea? You can contact her at (810) 989-6202 or Follow her on Twitter @bairgood123.



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