ZEELAND — It’s been a busy week for small business owners.
But for Anna Benson, owner of Petcuts Grooming in Zeeland, busy is an understatement.
“I already have over 200 appointments scheduled,” she said. “I’m pushed back to July now. I’m working an extra day during the week and extra hours each day, but I’m only one person and I can only do so much. I understand if my customers have to go somewhere else just to get their dog shaved down. It’s a pretty dire need.”
Like many business owners, Benson was forced to close her doors following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Stay-at-Home Executive Order. Benson was vocal throughout the mandated closure about her concern for the health of dogs without regular grooming.
“Grooming may not be essential for a dog’s life,” she said. “But it’s essential for a dog’s health. I’m hearing that dogs are starting to pull their own hair out because of the matting. I’m hearing about eye infections. Typical grooming hasn’t been done, so dogs that have never had health issues before are having health issues.”
For Benson, the most difficult part of shutting down wasn’t the financial hit. It was having to say no.
“Being closed has been one of the hardest things,” she said. “Closing your business down is absolutely difficult. But when you have customers calling you crying because their dogs are so matted, it’s really hard to tell them there’s nothing you can do. I just kept encouraging them to email the governor.”
Now, Benson can finally say yes. But not to everyone.
“It’s so tough when someone calls me right now and their dog is severely matted and I’m already booked for the next month,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking. I feel bad for the dogs. I’m there to take care of their hair and their parents can’t do it, and now they’re sitting outside in the heat.”
Throughout the shutdown, Benson was proactive. She received two COVID-19 certifications — one from BARBICIDE and another from MoeGo. She also took steps to ensure her shop would be safe for customers upon reopening.
“It’s literally contactless from people,” she said. “I have a 24-inch barrier on top of the wall surrounding my walk-in area, and we have curbside pick-up and drop-off options. I have some high-risk customers and I’m happy to get their dog from their car.”
For Benson, it’s important that customers understand she’s moving as quickly as possible to get their pets groomed.
“I wanted to do my job,” she said. “But I had to follow the law like everybody else. My customers have been so patient while I’m trying to get everybody scheduled. I just ask them to continue to be patient while I sort this out.”