Businesswoman opens Harlem’s first 24-hour dog care service

Founder of The Bark Shoppe, Melissa Mitchner, is opening a 24-hour dog care facility in Harlem on Aug. 10.
Phillis Kwentoh

It’s a round-the-clock place for doggies.

A Harlem entrepreneur is opening upper Manhattan’s first and only 24-hour dog care facility on Aug. 26. The owner of the soon to be state of the art dog space, Melissa Mitchner, decided to reopen her pet grooming store “The Bark Shoppe,” as an all day care spot for local pet owners and provide a service that is rare to find in upper Manhattan. Many pet care places in lower Manhattan offer similar services and the chance for owners to watch their pets during day care but it will be the first for the area, she said.

“It’s something they want and I wanted to create a space where people no longer have to leave their neighborhood to get the level of service they felt is needed,” she said. “That’s also what made me open up because when you go downtown this is not unheard of and people like watching their pets on camera and the features — so why not have it uptown?”

The “Bark Shoppe” will offer day and night care services including therapy, washing facilities, boarding, and grooming.

She has revamped the location to be a go-to place for Harlemites who are pet owners, said its founder.

Aside from caring for the dogs, the shop will provide a video link to allow owners to see what their beloved furry relatives are doing during their stay. The dogs will also be spoiled with other self-care services.

Dogs will get a lot of therapeutic care with scents and sounds, said Mitchner. Her shop is also going to offer anxious pets a soothing solution for their needs.

“We also have classic music to help calm dogs with anxiety and lavender essential oils that can also help anxiety and stress,” she said.

But even though she is the founder of what will be the neighborhood’s only pet care store, Mitchner herself is not a pet owner and happened to find herself in the business after watching a reality show that gave her the idea.

“I didn’t know anything about pets at all and I never owned a pet so it was very left from what I thought I would be doing,” she said.

After being laid off from her job at an electronics store, inspiration however would push her to test out the field of grooming and the experience would open her eyes to the disparity she wanted to change.

“I went to grooming school and immediately I didn’t see people that looked like me as a person of color and as I started going to salons, there weren’t a lot of minority owners,” said Mitchner. “Then I thought, ‘I want to actually employ more minority people and get them attracted to grooming.’”

And one of her passions is targeting the community of the most vulnerable, which she hopes her store can be one of the avenues that assist them.

“I wanted to deal with at risk youth for younger generation and have them complete to get job readiness through ‘The Bark Shoppe,’” she added.

Mitchner said the store will have a three-day celebratory opening once renovations are completed, from Aug. 24–26, and she hoped nearby residents love what her shop offers.

“I want people to come in and enjoy the family dynamic of a small business, and actually being able to have a point person by knowing who their groomers are — I want people to know how we treat pets and members of their family and our family,” she said.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com.

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