August 2, 2013 08:25AM
By Kimberly Primicerio
MERIDEN — In about three more weeks, patrons of the Class Act Auto Wash will not only be able to wash their cars, they’ll be able to wash their dogs.
The business at 1 Research Parkway will serve as a typical car wash with five bays for cars to get cleaned and shined. Another portion of the facility will be dedicated to pets. Two stainless steel sinks will be set up with a variety of shampoos for customers to choose from. Owner David Carabetta said the pet washing aspect of the business was his wife’s idea. They discussed it and decided to follow through. The business should open in three more weeks and its grand opening is scheduled for Sept. 15.
“The family can wash the car and then the kids can wash the pet,” Carabetta said Thursday.
At Class Act Auto Wash, the pet washing is a self service component. Owners can walk over to the front of the facility, the side that faces Research Parkway, and wash their dogs in the sink with a number of shampoos or deodorizers, Carabetta said. Owners can dry their pets off with a vacuum or dryer once they have been washed, Carabetta said.
“There’s no mess in your home, you can make the mess here,” said Carabetta, a dog owner himself.
The dual pet and car wash business isn’t unheard of, Carabetta said. They can be found in the South as well as in New York and New Jersey, Carabetta said.
“I would say it’s been in the market for a good 10 years,” Carabetta said. “It’s growing at a steady pace.”
The U.S. pet industry is expected to bring in $55 billion this year, according to the American Pet Products Association. About $4.5 billion of that is expected to be spent on pet grooming and boarding.
“Any business that has a customer base on average will have almost 70 percent of their customers owning a pet and almost 45 percent of their customers will have a dog,” said Bob Vetere, association president and CEO in an email. “A good business model will take advantage of the pet ownership by having products/services that mirror their business model but provide a service/product for pets. Grocery stores, for example, take advantage of their customer base by providing extensive pet product selections. People have to shop for food so they can also save another trip by buying pet supplies. The same with the car wash — people will periodically come for a car wash and they can save a trip to the groomer by using the pet wash service. The only caveat is it has to be a positive experience or they will lose business quickly.”
Alicia Wright, public relations director for the Connecticut Humane Society, said she had never heard of a business offering both car washes and pet washes, though Wright said she was aware of self-service grooming businesses. The car wash and pet wash facility could end up generating a lot of business, Wright said, adding that she hopes the owner posts various rules and regulations and provides directions for safe use of the grooming equipment, as well as requiring that pets be vaccinated. Wright said if the owner is smart about the safety of the pets and their owners the facility could be successful.
“Washing a dog at home is hard work,” she said. “It can be a challenge.”
Besides offering the pet washing stations, the business also offers five bays for car washing.