Going To The Dogs | Bark Avenue Salon
Photos by Emma Highfill, Rose Wheat Photography
Kassandra Gallaghan, owner of Bark Avenue Salon located at 712 SW Gage, calls Topeka her home, but she did not grow up here; she grew up in Los Angeles, California. Gallaghan fell in love with Topeka after spending three months here looking for her dog, which she had lost during a protection sport show in town. She found the people of Topeka so nice and welcoming, that she decided to relocate here.
“Whenever I was traveling across the country, I would stop in Topeka, and I just love the area,” Gallaghan said. “After a while, I decided that I was done with California and I moved to Topeka. There are so many people in the community who make you feel welcome by just the way that they treat you. I don’t miss California, this is home.”
Gallaghan originally wanted to be a canine police officer, like her aunt, but discovered that her fear of the dark was not a good fit for that career path. She began training protection dogs but ended up grooming many of the dogs she worked with because she could not find a groomer that could deal with dogs that have behavioral issues.
“Some dogs are afraid of the blow dryer, or they are afraid of the brush, and they were difficult for groomers to work on, so I started doing it myself, and I fell in love with it!” Gallaghan said.
When Gallaghan first moved to Topeka, she worked as a pet groomer for a local veterinary hospital, but after receiving a small inheritance from her grandfather, Gallaghan ended up in business for herself.
“I was looking for a position as a pet groomer when I discovered that Pampered Pets was selling one of their locations,” Gallaghan said. “So, I called my grandmother to ask her what she thought about using the inheritance money my grandfather had given me to buy the business. She said my grandfather believed in small business, so I went ahead and did it.”
Things were not easy at first for Gallaghan and, like many new business owners, she struggled in the beginning, but a friend’s encouragement helped Gallaghan get through that first difficult year.
“When I first opened up it was just me as a groomer, and I had only one or two people a week coming in,” Gallaghan said. “I started to panic, thinking this was the stupidest idea ever. I had invested every penny that I had in the business and I didn’t want to starve.”
A friend suggested that she make little bows to go on the dogs’ ears after they are groomed. People loved them. After six months, her schedule began to fill up and the business began to see a profit. Business continued to pick up, and Gallaghan says her business has tripled every year since she opened four years ago. Gallaghan claims her growth is largely due to referrals.
“I’ve never experienced anything like the Topeka community. Everybody knows everybody. There’s no better compliment than having a referral, especially when caring for someone’s dog because it’s like their child,” Gallaghan said. “It’s my job to make sure they have a good experience and that they are safe. We take it seriously.”
Gallaghan not only owns Bark Avenue Salon where she is a groomer, but she is also a volunteer firefighter and works in search and recovery with cadaver dogs.
“I’m so blessed that I love every piece of what I do. The grooming helps dogs, the firefighting helps people, and the cadaver work potentially provides closure for somebody,” Gallaghan said.
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