By Jen Phillips April
Photos by Margeaux Zablan
New York City’s oldest dog grooming salon and emporium is thriving with three locations in Manhattan. Billing itself a “Lifestyle Brand for dogs,” owner Mark Drendel credits the longevity of Canine Styles as a mix of grooming, high quality retail, customer service and location, location, location.
The flagship store is in Midtown Manhattan at Lexington and 63rd Street. “Lexington Avenue is where the Upper East Side shops. I know my customers. I know what they wear and where they shop.”
Mark isn’t a groomer but a retailer. He got his start in the pet industry at Canine Styles in the late ‘80’s as a salesperson. According to him, there was one full–time groomer and one part–time groomer and about 200 square feet for retail. “After three or four months, I’d fallen in love with the store and heard the original owner wanted to sell. I told her I was interested, but I was very poor. She told me if I could come up with 10%, she’d hold the note for seven years. So, I got cash advances on all my credit cards.”
Fast forward nearly 30 years, and Canine Styles has three locations in Manhattan. The original store has doubled in size. “We have the best groomers in NYC. My groomers have been with me for 12–20 years. Even my bathers and fluffers have been with me that long. We usually hire and train from within.”
Canine Styles has a loyal following with many of their customers being well–known in the worlds of fashion, society and entertainment. Designers, TV personalities and Park Avenue socialites all bring their dogs to Canine Styles.
Canine Styles also offers “Concierge Home Grooming” where a Master Groomer will go to a client’s home. But most customers still choose to come into the salon. Mark explains, “NYC apartments are small and most people don’t want their pet to be groomed in their kitchen.”
Unlike some other salons, they use no sedatives or cage drying and all grooming is always in full view. Canine Styles also offers a service guarantee that every pet will be treated as one of their own.
On the retail side, Mark designs a high–end pet collection that’s unveiled in late summer. “I owned the first store for 7–10 years and realized there was a need for a higher–end product so I started designing our own line of products. Our coats, our sweaters, most of our bedding, we have a signature plaid, all of our carriers; they’re all products we manufacture. That really sets us apart.”
The products are high–quality versions of human fashion. “I take my inspiration from things I like to wear. Or from my son who’s almost 17 years old. I thought no one was interpreting people clothes for dogs. So, I designed a ski parka, a down puffer coat, a barn coat and cashmere sweaters in multiple colors.”
Because Canine Styles encompasses three stores and a warehouse, they’re also one of the few places in Manhattan where customers can walk in and say, “I need four of those beds in that size and color” and they’ll be delivered that day.
Canine Styles has carved out a niche for itself with its reputation for fine pet goods as well as top–notch grooming, but Mark says they go hand in hand.
As ecommerce upended retail, Mark says he thinks the combination of grooming and retail saved them because grooming brings people in on a regular basis. He says that a big part of success in any business is being able to visualize what you want. That, and knowing your customer.
Here’s to the next 30 years! ✂️