Catonsville Dog Co. to open its doors Aug. 30

Many 24-year-olds are busy in graduate school, getting their careers started or looking for that first full-time job. Catonsville resident Blair Nagel, 24, is on a different path.

Nagel spent the past seven years working at The Groomery, a dog grooming shop on Frederick Road next to Atwater's bakery.

But when the owner Kathy Swoboda decided to suddenly close the shop in May, Nagel found herself in position to do something most 24-year-olds only dream about: open her own business.

"The day after the doors [at The Groomery] were closed, I went to the bank and opened a business account," Nagel said. "When we lost our jobs, I could've moped around. I could've been pissed. I could've been angry. But I decided to funnel it into something positive and that's how this business came to be."

The business is her new grooming company, Catonsville Dog Co., which will have its grand opening 4 to 7 p.m. Aug. 30 during the final concert of the summer in the Frederick Road Fridays series at the Mews on Mellor Avenue.

The grooming shop, located at 25 Mellor Ave., will provide services ranging from a simple wash to show-quality haircuts ranging from $20 to $100 depending on the dog.

"I'm 24 years old, and I really did not think I'd be at this point this soon," Nagel said. "It took me 24 hours to realize this is a great opportunity.

"Ever since I've been doing this, I knew this is what I'm supposed to be doing," Nagel said of grooming. "I feel like the past seven years of my life, I haven't been working, it's fun."

Nagel said she has always been a dog lover. After studying art at the Carver Center for Arts and Technology High School, a magnet high school in Towson, she decided to combine her love of animals with her love for art.

"Ever since I was a kid, I'm an animal person. I was that kid hanging on the neck of a dog," Nagel said. "The next best thing [to going to college or to work] was to work with dogs and art, which is grooming."

Her sister, 23-year-old Lydia Nagel, worked with her at The Groomery and is joining her as the second groomer at Catonsville Dog Co.

Lydia Nagel said it was an obvious choice for her to join her sister.

"She asked me before she even found the place," Lydia Nagel, an Arbutus resident, said. "We just work really well together."

Both sisters admit they did their share of bickering growing up. But when they are working together grooming dogs, all of that seems to fall away.

"We can't go out to lunch together, but we work so well together," Lydia Nagel said. "Somehow, I don't know how, but it works."

Their mother, Mary Nagel ,said she is proud of the girls' ambition and has no qualms about them starting their own business at such young ages.

"I was over the scary part right from the beginning because, for years, she's always talked about owning her own shop," Mary Nagel, also an Arbutus resident, said of her oldest daughter. "When the opportunity presented itself, we were all ready for it.

"They found out that morning they didn't have a job and they came back to my dining room that morning, got coffee and said, 'What are we going to do? What are we going to do?,' " she said. "And Blair said, 'Let's do this.' "

She said she is proud of Blair for making the decision to start her own business, then getting it off the ground in less than four months.

"She's got a great business head," she said of Blair Nagel. "Once the decision was made that morning, it was just. 'Keep going forward, however it is.' "

The owner of Peace a Pizza, at 15 Mellor Ave., Sally Grace, said she is excited to have the new shop as her neighbor.

"It's always good to have somebody new, because it brings more customers not only here, but elsewhere in Catonsville," Grace said.

She said that the strip of shops on the north side of The Shops at Mellor has had a number of vacancies for a while now, and the arrival of a new business is a good sign.

"It's definitely a good thing," she said. "The more tenants they have, the better it is for them and for neighboring businesses."

Grace said she isn't worried about the added furry foot traffic through the area, and thinks it's the perfect spot for a new groomer.

"It's a good location for them because there are so many vet hospitals around," Grace said referring to the Catonsville Emergency Veterinary Clinic across the street at 32 Mellor Ave. and Frederick Road Veterinary Hospital at 816 Frederick Road, only a few blocks away.

"People in this area really love their dogs," she said. "People even bring their dogs here and eat on our patio.

"We're used to it [having dogs around the store] because the vet people take walks with their dogs throughout the day," Grace said. "A lot of neighbors walk by with their dogs. I don't expect it to be an issue."

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