Millie’s Pet Services Groomed for Successful Future

A shortage of dog groomers locally led to Millie’s Pet Services being set up in Carnoustie.

Owner Vicky Gunn and her mother Shirley took the plunge with the venture six years ago, and it now provides a variety of services including dog grooming, dog-friendly camper van hire and an honesty pet shop.

Having previously worked as an accountant in the NHS in the Lindon area, Vicky had been looking for a new challenge after moving back to Scotland.

The businesswoman said: “With local groomers operating four-to-eight-week waiting lists plus no dog groomers at that time in central Carnoustie, there was an opportunity to start with services for owners who wanted to stay local and not drive to a groomer.

“And, from a retail perspective, I was looking to provide high-quality treats and food which you wouldn’t find in supermarkets or large pet stores.”

There have been many changes at Millie’s Pet Services since it opened its doors.

The owner explained: “Our services have expanded, changed, shrunk and expanded again.

“While it’s been difficult during the challenges businesses have faced in recent years, I’m proud of the difficult decisions we’ve taken in order to survive.

“In particular, we carried out a move during Covid to larger premises – providing safe working and shopping experience – allowing us to expand our grooming services and additional retail offerings too.

“We also added a new team member – Harley, our luxury VW dog-friendly camper van hire – to the business in 2021.

“Our focus has very much moved away from retail – we now just operate an honesty shop – I think the first pet shop to do this – in response to the cost-of-living crisis, but also the demand for our grooming services.”

Vicky said that, apart from a dog-grooming perspective, there had been a big growth in customers seeking ultrasound teeth cleaning.

She added: “Research indicates that, by three years old, 80% of dogs will have some dental disease – and dog owners are keen to avoid significant vet dental fees and putting their dog under sedation.  Our cleaning is motionless and noise free.”

Meanwhile, on the retail side, Vicky reported demand for grain-free and novel proteins – those proteins not typically found in a dog’s diet – like rabbit, ostrich and kangaroo.

She went on: “Rabbit ears and long-lasting chews like goat horns are also super-popular right now.

“Dog owners are becoming more educated and informed about their dog’s diets and we’ve been able to provide for this – we have a strict zero-rawhide policy.  But we also see a growing number of owners trying to address allergies and sensitivities.”

Asked about the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on Millie’s Pet Services, the owner said energy bills had rocketed as had the cost of goods it sells.

“Understandably, we have seen some customers reduce their spend on treats and toys etc and we have seen a small number of grooming customers move to cheaper groomers.”

So what has been the secret of continued success for Millie’s Pet Services?

Vicky replied: “Our ability to change – get our head down and do the work.”

Looking to the next few years, the owner says she hopes to have developed more collaborations with other dog-related businesses and allow the current team of dog groomers working from Millie’s to specialise and expand their services into cat grooming and professional training.

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