About two years ago, Sarah Archambault decided it was time for a change.
“I’ve been bartending for most of my adult life and I just … wanted more of a career,” Archambault said.
So she considered her interests.
“I always had a huge passion for dogs. I’m known as a huge dog lover. I have three dogs myself that I rescued,” Archambault said.
That and the fact that she’s somewhat artistic led Archambault to pursue a career as a dog groomer. After looking up grooming classes, she attended a 16-month training program under Hooksett groomer Jan Waldo. Soon after that, Archambault hit the ground running to start her own business, which is now located at 8 Birch St. in Derry. She found the space, which used to be a dog salon, on Craigslist.
“I went to go look at it and loved it instantly,” Archambault said.
Sarah’s Paw Spa opened on Feb. 1, 2016.
At first, Archambault started out with about five to 10 dogs per week, but the business grew at a rapid pace due to high demand in the Derry area. She said she now sees about 40 dogs per week and is scheduling appointments about a week and a half out.
She believes her success is due in part to her business model, which goes against that of the large-scale chain operations that keep dogs in crates and groom multiple dogs at the same time.
Sarah’s Paw Spa is all about one-on-one attention. Each dog has the run of the shop without any other furry customers to compete with.
“They’re only here for the grooming process, they’re not crated, there’s no other dogs or people here. So it’s just me and the dog and they have the whole place to themselves while they’re being groomed,” Archambault said.
She goes out of her way to make sure even the most nervous dogs are comfortable. That’s where she thinks she really specializes. She creates a comforting space and lets the dogs acclimate to their environment and relax even before the grooming begins.
She designed the space to be comforting for the human owners too.
“It’s basically one room. I designed it more with a spa look,” Archambault said. “It doesn’t look industrial and cold-looking. It’s cute.”
Because of this, she has been able to groom dogs that other places have had to turn away because they were too skittish and nippy.
“I haven’t turned down a dog yet for that reason,” Archambault said.
Archambault said she serves all breeds, from 180-pound Newfoundlands and Great Danes to tiny, 3-pound teacup Yorkies.
Each pup receives a bandana free with every grooming.
Archambault offers other services, like nail polishing, as well.
“It’s nail polish designed for dogs so it dries pretty fast and it’s not toxic,” Archambault said.
Fun fact: Archambault, who still works part-time at the Wild Rover in Manchester, also won Best Waitress for Manchester (see page 28). As with the rest of our winners in all categories other than “Best thing we forgot to ask about,” that win will be a surprise when she reads about it here.