Kennel Shop Finds New Home, Keeps Loyal Clientele

Contributing Writer

FAMILY BUSINESS: The Kennel Shop, now located at 3144 E. 15th St., originally opened in Utica Square and has been a place for pet lovers to take their cats and dogs for a bath or first hair cut for half a century. Marilyn Rhoades, owner of the Kennel Shop, finds time to give a tour of the new location at Florence Park in the College Hill area of mid-town.

ELIZ HOLLIS for GTR Newspapers

Tulsa’s “new kind of energy” is apparent in the face of Marilyn Rhoades, local entrepreneur and owner of The Kennel Shop, arguably the oldest dog grooming business in Tulsa.

The Kennel Shop has moved to 3144 E. 15th St. in College Hill, the second oldest shopping area, outside of downtown (circa 1920.) The collection of stores and businesses has a middle-America feel as shop owners welcome customers as friends. It is tailor made for welcoming The Kennel Shop.

The group of retailers, known as CHAMP (College Hill Association of Merchants and Professionals), are bordered to the north by 11th Street, to the south by 21st Street, to the east by Harvard Avenue and west by Lewis Avenue. Fifteenth Street and the Broken Arrow Expressway bisect the “Square Mile in Mid Town.” College Hill is referred to as “the Gateway to the University of Tulsa.”

Third owner and second generation groomer Rhoades remembers when her mother bought the original Kennel Shop, located in Utica Square for 33 years, from Cy Haywood.

“In our family, life must truly begin in your 50s. My mother, Mrs. Mary Nell Finney, bought the shop at age 55 and moved it a little further east to 21st and Harvard for more space. Twenty-five years at that location became her legacy well into her eighties. I inherited the business at age fifty and could not be more delighted. “

A photograph and “note” from Socks, the former White House cat, has been re-hung for customers to enjoy.

Looking out the large windows facing north, veteran groomer Carolyn Haynie laments, “Mary Nell (former owner) would have seen the potential in such a light and airy environment.”

She goes back to grooming a Yorkie named Dixie. Her remarks are as tender as the comb-out she is giving.

Rhoades does not take her surroundings for granted. She notes the view of beautiful plants at Urban Garden, another new business, which alerts the neighborhood that it is spring. To the east, Merritt’s Bakery offers not only the best cakes and goodies for people but also freshly made dog biscuits for her little “fur-clients.”

“We have even gotten our own hair styled at Nathaniel Mattingly’s salon, our Florence Park neighbor.”

Rhoades continues to reflect. “Mother credited her achievement to a focus on customer service. We are not fancy, but we are friendly, not designer but devoted, and not a spa but sparkling with a little Bohemia thrown in for good measure.

“We take good care of the dogs and cats with comparative prices and provide consistent care and grooming. Cost of grooming depends on the size of the dog and the cut requested. There is no additional charge for medicated or organic shampoos. We offer personalized services, good grooming and an odor-free environment. Smoking has never been allowed around our animals.”

Maintaining a relationship with the pets’ owners is an important part of The Kennel Shop. People and their pets often reflect similar personalities the women agree. There are several generations of owners and pets that carry on the tradition of The Kennel Shop. It is where puppies come for their “first haircuts.”
“No tranquilizers or yelling to maintain control are ever used. Nothing in grooming should ever hurt. Love is the rule, “ the owner insists.

“There is no assembly-line grooming done here. The only cookie cutter used is to make doggie treats,” Rhoades smiles.

For more information, call The Kennel Shop at (918) 742-5050.

Updated 04-14-2008

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