SYKESVILLE – The Sykesville Pet Salon is a family affair for the Kister family as they have all teamed up to help groomer Ashley Kister start her own business after graduating from grooming school.
With the help of her parents, two sisters and an extended family, they all celebrated the grand opening of Ashley Kister’s business, the Sykesville Pet Salon, last weekend.
Kister attended DuBois Area High School, and during her freshman year she mentored her cousin, who owns Shaggy to Chic in DuBois. After graduating from high school last spring, she made the decision to go to grooming school as well.
“Just like two years ago, I thought about it,” Kister said. “It wasn’t a shadow at work in school, I just went and did it.”
She attended the Just Four Paws Academy in Erie, which offers two programs, a 300 hour course and a 600 hour course. Kister completed the 600 course, which lasted four months, and certified it in dogs and cats.
“It’s part of the 600 hour program, they would also teach me how to make cats,” Kister said. “When I was in school I learned to groom a cat without even having a leash or anything. He stayed there, and you just need to have the reflexes. “
Her parents got her pet salon location in July, and the whole family worked weeks to get the store ready to open in December.
“Since July we’ve all spent weeks here trying to fix it and get everything ready for it,” said Rachel Kister, Ashley’s younger sister.
The store was once a dentist’s office, and her father turned a dentist’s chair into a grooming table for her. The table uses the chair’s hydraulics to move up and down while Ashley grooms the animals.
He said the table works well and can support any weight dog. He has a background in construction which helped the family prepare for the opening of the store. Kister’s uncle also welded a piece to the back of the table so that she could hang the dogs on a small leash so they wouldn’t fall out.
There is also a small stepladder to help older or smaller dogs get on the table more easily.
Instead of cages, the store has small waiting rooms connected to the dog grooming room. There are lower screens so small dogs can see outside, and a small hole for the air dryer to put in to blow air out if the dogs are not completely dry.
Ashley’s older sister Katelyn Kister helped run the business through the Small Business Development Center at Clarion University.
“Katelyn actually graduated from Clarion a year ago in December, so she kind of took care of that part for us,” said Michele Kister, Ashley’s mom. “It really helped a lot because we didn’t know what we were getting into. All we knew was that we needed a building, we bought the building and we were like “what now?” So she kind of spearheaded that ending for us.
Rachel, the youngest of the three, is finishing high school and comes to help out in the workshop during a work release.
The Kisters are still working on the details of the daycare offered at the store. They have rooms for the daycare and are planning to expand to create a space where dogs can be left outside to play.
The front room of the business is also decorated with paintings of dogs and cats on the walls which Ashley Kister painted herself. Her family described her as artistic and creative.