Friends save dog grooming business after owner's death

Two well-groomed dogs in the Norfolk Groomshed.

"With a lot of dog breeds, grooming is a welfare necessity." said Mr Collins. - Credit: Norfolk Groomshed

A dog grooming business which has stayed open during both national lockdowns is keeping the dream of its late owner alive. 

The Norfolk Groomshed was established in Swaffham’s historic centre almost two years ago by Vickie Austin and David Moore.

When Mr Moore died last year, two of his former partners, Sean Collins and John Wainwright, stepped in to help Ms Austin preserve his legacy.

“The Groomshed is now my Saturday job,” said Mr Collins.

“Vickie runs it day-to-day, but then I look after what David used to do, which is all of the business administration, and we started an online store as well.

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"It’s about keeping the business alive, because it’s David’s legacy really.”

Part of the Groomshed’s local appeal is its focus on sustainable, natural and locally-sourced products. 

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“David was passionate about how much rubbish is sold as dog treats,” said Mr Collins.

“When he was looking to start the business, the pair of us spent a long time looking for suppliers that were eco-friendly, natural, and locally produced in Norfolk too, if we could.”

The salon also specialise in providing gluten-free and lactose-free dog snacks, as the business was born out of Mr Moore’s own dog, Nelson, suffering from a poor stomach and behavioural problems. 

Open throughout both national lockdowns, the Groomshed sought permission to do so directly from DEFRA.

“Some people don’t realise that with a lot of dog breeds, grooming is a welfare necessity.” said Mr Collins, who had nothing but praise for the support of local councils.

“Both Swaffham and Breckland councils have been very pro-active” said Mr Collins. “They’ve come to us, businesses haven’t had to go to them.”

He said the Groomshed had been a significant boon to other businesses in the town.

“If their dog is with us for 90 minutes or two hours sometimes,” said Mr Collins, “people go and shop at other local businesses.

“When they’re open, they go to the cafes and have a coffee, and at weekends they can visit the market. 

“We’re directly in the town centre, right on the Market Place, and we’re always recommending that people go and visit other places!”

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