By Liz Johnson
Step over the threshold into Kountry Kuts Grooming in Richmond and you will be greeted by a few friendly cats and dogs that love to hang out there. The staff appears to love them too, which shows in their affection for animals that come through the door.
Kountry Kuts is owned by Missy Orender, who took over the business from her mom, Debbie Tompkins, in 2010.
Tompkins opened the business in 1995. She started grooming right out of her parents’ house when she was a child.
“I played dog groomer as a child, and I didn’t have a dog,” said Tompkins. “I also had an imaginary horse, which was quite embarrassing to my brother.”
Prior to opening Kountry Kuts, Tompkins worked in a pet store and learned the grooming business. She also trained at a grooming school in Lee’s Summit.
Tompkins and her daughter said they watch a lot of the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan’s TV show on handling dogs, and have learned a lot about canine behavior that has helped them work with their customers’ pets.
Both regularly attend grooming seminars where they constantly learn new techniques – not just for grooming and bathing – but also for handling the animals.
“I grew up in the business,” said Orender. She was always at her mother’s shop and inherited a love of animals. “I train horses too,” she added. “I grew up on the back of a horse and have ridden since I was in diapers.”
One of her dreams is to someday have her horse, Stella, enter the Olympics.
In addition to her horse, Missy has her own a 200-pound English Mastiff named Razor, and adopted a retired greyhound named Hemi.
“God puts us here with a purpose,” said Tompkins, “I’ve been blessed all my life – this is not a job.” Her love for animals and dog grooming has kept her working, even though her daughter has taken over the business.
In addition to their own furry customers, Kountry Kuts assists local rescue groups with grooming rescued animals – grooming to the dog or cat’s needs. They also work with local veterinarians.
Kountry Kuts experience goes beyond bathing pets. They also cut nails, clip for shows, offer coloring and creative grooming. They even occasionally work on guinea pigs and sheep.
The grooming business is a busy one, averaging anywhere from 20 to 30 pets a day. Orender is excited about growing her business and hopes someday to be in a larger, new building, where she can offer doggy day care, boarding and obedience training, in addition to her current services.
The business, located at 201 E. Franklin St., is undergoing a remodel that includes new kennels, flooring and reception area. In celebration of the remodel and to thank current and future customers, the business will have a Grand Re-opening Customer Appreciation Day 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, May 3, during Mushroom Festival.
Orender says there’ll be lots of fun and games for pets and their owners, like a sack race for pets and owners, Charlie the Maltese kissing booth, a dog pool and other events.
Kountry Kuts is open 8 a.m. to around 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and every third Saturday, also 8 a.m. around 5. Call 816-470-5112 for details.