From pet lover to proprietor Lara Plimpton’s Beach Paws is the premier Hamptons’ dog spa.
By Nissa Larsen
Lara Plimpton is the owner of “Beach Paws”, a pet grooming boutique and shop located in Wainscott, NY, in “the Hamptons”. If you want to beautify and primp your pet, then “Beach Paws” is the place to go.
Q: What inspired you to open up “Beach Paws”? I had decided to make a major career change at age 29. I then did a short stint in an animal hospital but was unable to cope with all the pain, sadness and fear I saw on a daily basis. I knew I had to continue in this line of work but had to find a happier-for-the-dogs kind of work! At the vets office, baths & grooming were carried out. As I watched and learned I thought to myself, I could do this on my own and make money for me instead of someone else. The idea that I could be with so many dogs and help them feel good & happy all day AND bring my dog Sammy to work with me every day inspired me to get to it!
Q: When did you open up your business? I opened my business in 2001! It’s been a wonderful journey.
Q: Have you always been at this location? I started in a microscopically small space in East Hampton village. It was the size of a closet, down a tiny little brick alley called Newtown Mews off Newtown Lane. In 2006, I moved to 348 Montauk Highway. Wainscott; it is a much larger space.
The Pet Industry
With 82.5 million homes across America having a pet as an official family member, the $55.7 billion pet industry continues to skyrocket, projected to grow by four percent annually over the next four years.
Q: How do you find your unique inventory? I find it everywhere I can. I am always searching for nice things, both extravagant and affordable to offer my customers. At present, I am partnered up with someone brilliant in developing a new line of products under the Beach Paws name. So far we have some great pet apparel. Our next goal is geared toward creating and producing some beautiful, ocean-themed collars and leashes.
Q: What is the single-most important piece of advice you would give a startup shop owner? Always be friendly, sincere and kind to ALL of your customers. Strive with each one to do your absolute best. One must enter this profession for love, not for money. This, inevitably, will shine through. Return customers are the staple, stability and joy of any grooming business. Customer service is very important.
Q: What are some challenges you have faced being the sole owner/proprietor of your business? The biggest for me is finding balance between work and family. I love my work and am happy to go to it every day. It is a challenge to be the best mother I can possibly be and at the same time run/ operate/ oversee and work my business as well as I possibly can. Grooming is extremely physical, and often grueling labor. I also find it challenging, at 42 years old (and aging), to maintain the stamina, endurance and physical strength to continue grooming 10-15 dogs per day, 5 days a week!!
I am going on the theory that this line of work will keep me young as well as happy, despite all its challenges.
Q: How have you obtained your clients? Did you advertise, or was it by word of mouth? I obtain my clients by word of mouth and by referral only. I have never advertised in any way. I am very blessed with that! I’m grateful to my clients.
Q: How do you handle a difficult or unsatisfied client? I handle it as diplomatically as possible. I always make myself available at any time to make any adjustments needed that are brought to my attention. I try to be understanding and sympathetic. To squeeze too much work (too many dogs) into one day would mean we would have to compromise the quality of our work in order to sustain quantity. I am absolutely unwilling to allow that to happen. Although it would be more lucrative, it is the polar opposite of what I am trying to achieve!! I won’t compromise on this.
Q: What are your plans for the future of “Beach Paws”? I would like to expand! My goal is to find financial backing to enable me to buy a substantial piece of property. We would continue to offer top of the line grooming services in a stylish salon, as well as k-9 day-care, socialization and day-camp programs. A k-9 bed & breakfast in the style of a luxurious hotel, with private training classes, beach and trail walks, and a daily exercise and diet program. I would have a beautiful little gift shop carrying all the new, exciting quality Beach Paws products, medical services available on call, and an in-ground, bone-shaped wading pool for all our guests to cool off during those Dog Days of Summer. Everyone needs a place they can leave their beloved animals safely and happily behind. The future plans for Beach Paws is to become that #1 k-9 destination of the Hamptons!
Q: Have you always been an animal lover? I have, indeed, ALWAYS been an animal lover.
For more info, contact: Lara Plimpton, Beach Paws, 348 Montauk Highway, Wainscott, NY 11975, 631-537-4590
Nissa Larsen is a Contributing Editor. Follow her on twitter @nisnice