Chris Christensen in Inc magazine December 2011


I have mixed feelings about dog shows.  On the one hand, I  enjoy  seeing dogs do obedience and agility, and I like watching the handlers groom.  I also enjoy watching conformation competition in some breeds.  However,  dog shows are frantic arrairs.  People are always looking for a place to park, their (competition) rings, places to set up and groom, water,  decent food, and the vendors.  It’s gotten very expensive to show dogs, and  it’s out rageously expensive to  observe  some of the shows.

I  went to the International Kennel Club dog show a few years back. I  might have even paid over $8 to get in, & possibly for parking more than that for parking. No joke.  I wanted to get a few grooming items  and watch judging of several breeds.  Yeah, very expensive, for the opportunity to step in dog shit.

The nice thing about buying stuff at the dog show is you save shipping.   I went into a pet supply booth that obviously carried Chris Christensen products, and asked for “Ice on Ice.”

“We sold out,” the vendor told me.   I still remember how bummed out I was.

I have stated before that I am as micro an entrepreneur as you can get, but  my understanding of the economics of microbusinesses got me an assistantship to grad school in the early late 1980’s.  The  microbusinesses I got my experience with were dog groomers.  I paid my way through undergraduate school (anthropology/environmental studies) by grooming dogs part time.
Were it not for the microentrepreneur Charlie Prager, the noted Bedlington Terrier breeder who developed and marketed the first portable dog grooming tables and low velocity stand dryers  (“Groom Rite”), there would be no grooming industry.  He made  the needed equipment inexpensive enough so the  service of dog grooming could be provided  cheaply enough to middle class Americans.
You might be too young to remember a time when  a week’s pay would  be enough for your housing, utilities, and maybe other expenses (there was no cable TV or cell phones,  there was the Viet Nam was and the Civil Rights movement made us suddenly aware that the playing field wasn’t level).    Gas was under 30c—way under! The fact was, people had expendable income to have a pet get it’s haircut and go to a salon.  Amusing, no?
So now, I am one of those old time groomers, and I tried and use Chris Christensen Products.   I became hooked.  They are top of the line.

There is an article on Chris in the Dec.2011 Inc. magazine. http://www.inc.com/magazine/201112/meet-chris-christensen-the-paul-mitchell-of-poodles_pagen_2.html

The writer, Josh Dean, points out what a skill dog grooming is, comparing it to moving topiary .  He points out how Chris listened to the fancy and created a market niche for  his company.  Chris and his wife are looking to expand the line at a lower cost to pet owners.  They have a problem, however.

The middle class can no longer afford those high maintenance breeds.  I see more Pit Bulls, Labrador Retrievers, Boxers, Puggles (no joke—designer mixes…& LabraDoodles) than dogs requiring haircuts.
Ethical hobby breeders do not breed for the market, and  don’t breed their dogs unless they can keep them indefinitely.  They know that people don’t have money to take care of a dog these days.
I wish Lisa (Chris’s wife) all the best in attempting to triple the business in three years.  I can no longer afford the gas to get to a dog show, let alone campaign a dog.  And the Big Box store I work for doesn’t appreciate quality or integrity.  That’s sort of funny, too:  the big box stores are  always advertising for groomers, but make it impossible to earn a living wage and  keep their skills up.  “Were the economy better…”  CCS would flatten all the competition. Their products are that good.

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