ST. PETERSBURG – As a child in Kentucky, Stefan Hoffmeister grew up with land and dogs all around him. Those experiences instilled in him a love for animals.
So it's hardly a surprise that he recently opened a business centered on dog care.
Hoffmeister and his wife, Andrea, saw the need for a do-it-yourself pet wash and grooming place. They opened The Salty Dog on Martin Luther King Street on Labor Day weekend. There are a lot of spots that offer dog grooming by the pros, from Big Box stores to Mom and Pop boutiques. But DIY dog washes are harder to find.
Opening The Salty Dog also is a career change for Hoffmeister, who spent 10 years as a mental health therapist. He was ready for a change.
Hoffmeister recently offered a tour of his business and talked about his DIY pet service.
Q. Why start Salty Dog?
A. We realized there were no businesses like this in Pinellas County, let alone St. Petersburg. There were people who needed the services. Think of it as a car wash for dogs. Some car washes are do it yourself … The average price of a groomer around here is $60-$80. (Self-service pet washing) isn’t really a new concept. It’s just new for the area.
Q. What makes your business unique?
A. It’s economical in these times. Folks are always looking to save money. You know the hassle of washing and grooming the dog. You don’t have to worry about the clean up. Bring your dogs. Bring your kids. We’re very family friendly. We will help you.
Q. What special considerations did you have in setting up the pet washing room?
A. We made sure all the tubs are elevated for the size of the dog (small, medium, and large). We put a rubber-cushioned mat in each tub. The whole thing is designed for comfort. We have restraints (to keep the animal from jumping out of the tub) and tables that are all adjustable. We designed it so the animals feel safe and the owners don’t have to bend. We have fur traps on the drains. We are big about maintenance.
Q. Why is your business a good fit for St. Petersburg?
A. St. Petersburg is a very, pet friendly place. We try to provide a service for folks who care for their animals. We try to make it easy for the budget and hassle free.
Q. Why the name Salty Dog?
A. We were just kicking it around. We wanted to keep it beachy and relaxed. We are very pro St. Pete.
Q. What are your plans for the business?
A. We want to have a really good customer base and educate our customers. We would like to open another one in another part of the county. We hope to add emergency services (like a post-skunk encounter pet cleanup). We are working with a local animal rescue so anybody who adopts a pet gets a coupon for a free wash.
If you go
The Salty Dog Do It Yourself Pet Wash and Groom is at 2317 9th Street North. Parking is behind the store. It’s fine to come in the back entrance (it’s actually preferred).
Cost: Pet washing services range from $12-$17, depending on the size of the dog.
What you get: Salty Dog supplies everything, just bring the dirty dog (or cat). There are add-on services, such as teeth cleaning wipes and deep conditioner.
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Check out the store’s Facebook page for more details.