Pooch Passion



Dog grooming shop launched with help from Hebrew Free Loan.

With jobs scarce, it’s rare for people to find work in their desired field, but Nikki Budaj, 25, made her own work by taking ownership of a self-serve dog wash and grooming shop called Scrubbers. Budaj, who has a self-described passion for dogs, has known for a long time that she needed to go into a field where she could work with them.

While majoring in business at Western Michigan University, Budaj started fostering dogs as a hobby. She took all of her fosters to a self-serve dog wash in Kalamazoo because she “loved the idea of a self-wash place that offers professional grooming, too.”

Budaj, who has owned Scrubbers since the middle of May, said that her “main goal is to make this place as clean and fresh smelling as possible. I don’t want customers to walk in and smell dirty dog.”

Customers will walk in and be greeted by Buddha, Budaj’s Chihuahua that she brings to work with her. “He loves it here; he can’t wait to come to work in the morning,” she said.

Before taking over the business from the previous owner who moved to California, Budaj shadowed him for two weeks so she could learn the business.

Her dedication to learning about Scrubbers before she purchased it paid off because Hebrew Free Loan in Bloomfield Township granted Budaj a $35,000 interest-free loan as part of its Marvin I. Danto small business loan program. This ultimately allowed her to purchase the company.

“There’s no way I could have done any of this without them,” she said.

On April 16, she presented her business plan to the committee at Hebrew Free Loan. “My dad made me watch episodes of the TV show Shark Tank so I would be prepared, but it made me so nervous; the people on that show are really intense,” she said.

When giving her presentation to the board, Budaj said they made her “feel at home. They told me to put down my note cards and just talk to them.”

By the next morning, Budaj received a phone call from a member of the committee telling her that she had been approved for the loan.

“Getting everything together before the presentation took about two weeks, but actually getting approved for the loan took less than 24 hours,” she said. Her dad and step-dad co-signed on the loan with her.

“My parents are my biggest supporters,” Budaj said. “I’m so lucky to have such a supportive family.”

David Contorer, executive director at Hebrew Free Loan, said, “Nikki is exactly the type of young entrepreneur that we want to help. … She already knew her business well, she knew dog grooming, she knew Scrubbers, she knew the owner, the financial details, the customer base; she really did her homework. And we hope that with our interest-free loan behind her, she will be successful at Scrubbers and do what she loves.”

After she graduated, Nikki wanted to stay in Michigan so she could be near her family. “I didn’t want to move away like everyone else did,” she said. Instead, she trained as a dog groomer at a business in West Bloomfield, her hometown, and worked there for three years, right up until she signed the papers to purchase Scrubbers.

Located in Royal Oak, Scrubbers has four tubs for bathing, a grooming table that customers can rent to groom their own dogs and drying tables, in addition to professional grooming. All self-serve grooming is walk-in, while customers need to make an appointment for their dog to be professionally groomed.

“We accommodate everyone,” said Budaj, but owners with dogs that are particularly loud or aggressive need to call ahead and make an appointment. Cats are also welcome at Scrubbers.

She has a lot of ideas for her business, from dog training to selling products from local stores. “I like the feeling of businesses supporting each other. I would much rather stock items from local businesses rather than ordering things online, if it’s possible,” she said. Budaj also sells special dog treats from her friend Erin Sample’s dog bakery, Little Paws Bakery, located outside of Kalamazoo, which uses all human-grade ingredients.

Budaj’s ambition and drive brought her to realizing her dream. She acknowledged that it “isn’t a glamorous job,” but it is exactly what she wants: “I would not trade this for anything. I adore it.”

Scrubbers is located at 2713 W. Webster Road in Royal Oak, off of Woodward between 12 and 13 Mile. Call (248) 584-DOGS, or scrubbersdogwash.com for more information.

By Marielle Temkin, JN Intern

David 07.05.2012

I love Scrubbers and highly recommend them. I've taken my dog there on more than one occasion and was thoroughly impressed!

- David A.