Muncie Origins: Downtown Dogs opens as Muncie's newest pet groomer

Jenn Morgan, the owner of Downtown Dogs, grooms Rocky, an 8-month-old Shih Tzu, Aug. 24 at Downtown Dogs. Rocky yawned and panted as Morgan trimmed and brushed their fur. Nicole Thomas, DN
Jenn Morgan, the owner of Downtown Dogs, grooms Rocky, an 8-month-old Shih Tzu, Aug. 24 at Downtown Dogs. Rocky yawned and panted as Morgan trimmed and brushed their fur. Nicole Thomas, DN

As the front door swings open, wind blows dog hair across the wooden floor, dogs bark from the back room and Jenn Morgan, owner of Downtown Dogs, trims the fur of a shaggy 8-month-old puppy and greets everyone with a cheerful “Hello.”

After working alongside other pet groomers for the past 18 years, Morgan said, she stumbled upon a building at 401 W. Jackson St. that was up for sale. While the timing wasn’t perfect, Morgan said, she knew the opportunity was something she would regret passing up.

“The location …  just kind of seemed pretty perfect for what I would need,” Morgan said. “I wasn’t necessarily looking to do it, but I was trying to think about my future.”

Building and prepping the location started in June 2020, and by Aug. 3, Downtown Dogs was open for business.

Since she was 16, Morgan said, her jobs have all been related to the pet industry. After taking a job at PetSmart, she went on to grooming training while taking a full class load at Ball State. When she couldn’t decide what to major in, Morgan took time off from school and has been grooming ever since.

Rocky, one of Morgan's clients, pants as Morgan trims and brushes their fur Aug. 24 at Downtown Dogs. After grooming, Morgan puts a bow tie or bandana on her clients and poses them for a photo for Downtown Dogs' Facebook page. Nicole Thomas, DN

Elizabeth Koontz, one of Downtown Dogs’ clients, met Morgan in 2011 and has been taking her dogs to Morgan since 2013 for grooming.

“She does a great job with our dogs,” Koontz said. “It’s not just a good haircut ... I can tell that [my dogs] are comfortable with her. They don’t panic when we go to see her. They’re just happy with her.”

Because of how much time Morgan has spent in Muncie, Koontz said, she understands how the community works, which makes her business different from others.

“She gets it,” Koontz said. “She understands Muncie and what it needs, and I think that plays a huge part in making her business special because she’s part of the fabric of Muncie.”

Rita, Morgan's 6-year-old standard poodle, stands behind Morgan as she grooms Aug. 23 at Downtown Dogs. Morgan said Rita is her shadow, and Rita will also follow Morgan around their home too. Nicole Thomas, DN

Grooming, Morgan said, is a simple step-by-step process for each dog that comes through the door. After a bath and blow dry, Morgan places the dogs on the table where she brushes and trims their fur. She then sees her clients in six to eight weeks for another appointment.

Despite the length of time between each grooming appointment, Morgan said groomers in and around Muncie are backed up. Downtown Dogs is currently booked halfway through September.

Charlie, one of Morgan's clients, sit in a crate as their hair is blow dried after a bath Aug. 24 at Downtown Dogs. In addition to baths and trims, Morgan also offers add-ons such as nail filing, teethbrushing, deshedding and a plum facial at Downtown Dogs. Nicole Thomas, DN

Happy Dogs, an established grooming business that has been in Muncie for over a decade, is in a similar position. Katie McIntire, director of customer relations, said Happy Dogs has appointments booked throughout the next month.

“We have open appointments daily that we usually fill every morning,” McIntire said. “We have other appointments booked in upcoming weeks.”

At Happy Dogs’ peak, McIntire said, there were five professional groomers working daily. Based on each groomer’s skill level, some were able to groom between 10 and 12 dogs a day, while others groomed between four and six, McIntire said. 

Morgan hopes to grow her business to be able to achieve similar numbers.

“Some of my goals are to get more groomers — more people working and a higher volume of dogs,” Morgan said. “I hope to eventually open a grooming academy or grooming training because of the high demand of groomers in the area.”

Annyeong, Morgan's 2-year-old catahoula, stands on her hind legs to reach Morgan as she grooms her client Rocky Aug. 24 at Downtown Dogs. Morgan brings her dogs Annyeong and Rita with her to work and will groom them at Downtown Dogs too. Nicole Thomas, DN

For those considering using Downtown Dogs as their new groomer, Koontz said, “Do it, 100 percent.”

“Don’t be afraid to tell [Morgan] what you want,” Koontz said. “She wants to give a good haircut and make you happy.”

Morgan said her biggest challenge with her new business is time management. Between taking phone calls, booking appointments, working with clients and grooming all of the dogs, she said, her time can slip away.

Annyeong, Morgan's 2-year-old Catahoula, wanders among the dog hair on the wooden floor Aug. 24 at Downtown Dogs. Morgan said Annyeong is a maniac and makes her laugh. Nicole Thomas, DN

But, she is thankful for the success of her business so far, and she looks forward to the future.

“To me, [Downtown Dogs] means the future for my family and my kids, a way to provide and have control over it,” Morgan said. “For Muncie, it’s a safe place to take your dogs and know that they’re going to be well cared for.”

Contact Taylor Smith with comments at tnsmith6@bsu.edu or on Twitter @taynsmithh.

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