by DEIDRE WENGEN AND LEN LEAR
When peering into the new storefront at 7150 Germantown Ave., some might say that Mt. Airy has gone to the dogs. And if Tina Grello, owner of Oh So Pretty Pet Supplies and Grooming Salon, has anything to say about it, that would be a good thing. Grello brings her years of expertise to the Mt. Airy store’s location, where she provides the local animal community with a wide variety of services ranging from basic grooming to exclusive pet products and spa-like pampering.
Tina, 36, grew up in Bethlehem and attended Eastern College on the Main Line, where she earned a degree in psychology. Now a resident of Wyndmoor, the thin, short-haired, fit-looking animal lover was employed as a social worker for five years at the Center in the Park, a facility for the elderly in Germantown.
After that, Tina spent some dog days working in restaurants but did volunteer animal rescue work in her spare time, helping to find loving homes for abandoned and homeless dogs and cats. She provided foster care for as many as eight dogs at one time. In March of 2003, her love for animals prompted her to open the Oh So Pretty dog grooming salon at 614 S. 3rd St. in Queen Village.
Why did this tail-ented young woman go from working with senior citizens of the human kind to four-legged citizens of the canine kind? “I don’t really think it’s that much of a stretch,” explained Grello. “Before, I was helping people, and now we are helping people to help their animals. And that does give comfort to people as well. I have found that my background in psychology and social work definitely helps in this line of work.”
Tina, who has no human children, lived in Mt. Airy for several years and then moved to Wyndmoor last year with her three rescue dogs — Zeke, 5, a Shepherd-Chow mix; Teegan, 4, a Cocker Spaniel-Lhasa Apso mix; and Jolie, 4, a Beagle-Shepherd mix. (The business is named for Jolie, whose name means “pretty” in French.) Large pictures of all three hang on a store wall.
Tina originally had no intention of opening a second grooming salon. However, after moving to Wyndmoor she could not find a groomer in the immediate area for her dogs. (Mt. Airy Animal Hospital, which now makes regular referrals to Tina, had a groomer at one time, but that service was stopped last year.)
“I bought my house in Wyndmoor last year through Elfant-Wissahickon,” she said. “When I explained to them my problem finding a groomer and mentioned that I myself was a groomer, they told me about this building here being vacant.” Grello liked the building at 7150 Germantown Ave., which was previously occupied by Reese’s Auto Tags. She was able to work out a deal and opened the salon at the end of March, where she is clearly barking up the right tree.
The salon currently caters primarily to cats and dogs, but will care for any type of animal if the opportunity arises. Some of the typical treatments include baths, hair cuts, manicures and ear cleaning. The caring staff works to provide customers with exactly what they are looking for, no matter how strange the request may seem. “We do a lot of fun things,” said Grello. “We have quite a few owners right now that are really into their dogs having Mohawks.”
Unlike her other location in Queen Village, Grello’s Mt. Airy site functions as a retail store as well as a grooming salon. She sells non-chemically treated products that are proven safe for all animals. “I love the whole natural, organic, preserving-the-environment thing,” said Grello, who makes her tastes evident by wearing relaxed clothing and donning a hip silver eyebrow piercing. “I wanted to bring those natural products here for animals.”
Oh So Pretty offers a variety of organic treats, food and cat litter. Even some of the dog toys provide owners with fun, healthy choices for their favorite active canines. Brightly colored rings and shapes made from the loofah vegetable, a member of the pumpkin family, are perfect for playing ‘Fetch’ but also offer numerous doggy dental benefits. All grooming supplies sold in the store are safe, soap-free products that Grello and her staff recommend and use personally.
And if you are the type of person who takes your pet for walks by the Wissahickon, make sure to stop by the store and check out the animal-friendly water bottles and adorable jogging jerseys. Most importantly, Grello wants to give her Mt. Airy/Chestnut Hill customers exactly what they are looking for. If she does not have a product or toy stocked, she will make sure to find it.”
Grello, an avid animal lover, explained “I’ve always had a dog my whole life, and I’ve been working with dogs since I was really young. My mom trained German Shepherds, so I’ve always been around animals and my knowledge just kind of developed over time.”
One thing that many pet owners bristle at is the cost of grooming. At Oh So Pretty, the cost of grooming a dog may be $30 to $50 or even more, based on the size of the dog, the type of fur, whether or not it’s matted from lack of regular brushing and other factors. How does any professional groomer arrive at his/her prices?
“Most people have no idea how time-consuming it is,” explained Tina, who attended a dog grooming school and also spent countless hours observing professional groomers before opening her first salon. “Even a small dog like a Maltese or a West Highland Terrier will take about two hours to do properly. It’s 15 or 20 minutes for shampoo and prep work, 20 minutes for a bath, at least 15 to 20 minutes for a blow-dry and about one hour for a haircut. Downtown I had one standard Poodle whose owner wanted a show cut. That grooming took four-and-a-half to five hours.”
And people who think that dog-tired groomers are making barrels of money are seriously mistaken. “A groomer can only do five dogs a day at the most,” said Tina. “People who have not done it cannot imagine how physically exhausting it is. I know another groomer who recently told me she had groomed six dogs the previous day and that she would ‘never do that again.”
Tina, whose team also includes groomer Kelly Kirwan and trainer Alexa Karaoulis of Mt. Airy, constantly emphasizes the importance of kindness and patience in not stressing out the animals left in her care. In fact, she does no advertising and takes the money that would normally be in her advertising budget and uses it to provide free grooming to animals in area shelters. Her business has come mostly from referrals and pamphlets left in area businesses and handed out in dog parks.
“My goal is not to make money hand-over-fist,” said Tina. “I am not here for the people but for the dogs … But I know that if you are happy with what we did, you’ll tell 10 people. If you are unhappy with what we did, you’ll tell 20 people. So I have to make sure you are happy.”
For more information, call 214-242-2929 or visit www.ohsopretty.net.