East Liverpool Groomer to Add Doggy Day Care Services

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – After less than a year in business, Michelle Coppa, owner of Coppa’s Mutts & Cuts, is planning to expand her operation at 117 W. Sixth St.

At its recent meeting, the Community Improvement Corporation approved a second loan of $12,500 for Coppa, which will allow her to add doggy day care to the grooming business she started last August with help from an initial loan from the CIC.

Since opening last year, the business has already gained 800 customers, according to Coppa, who says she believes that stems from her having grown up in the area. 

“I’ve been here all my life. People know me. I know a lot of people who know a lot of people,” she says, noting she bartended locally and also served as assistant manager at Sally’s Beauty Supply before opening her own beauty supply store in Steubenville.

Using her own cosmetology background and training, Coppa says she learned to groom canines “just by watching.”

Although he passed away before her 13th birthday, her father had a love of dogs that she inherited, and her memories of him is why she retained her maiden name.

But when she appeared before the CIC to request the loan for her latest dream, Coppa says it was her stepfather, recently deceased, she leaned on for courage.

She becomes emotional relating how her stepfather had actually been in her life much longer than her birth father, so when she went before the CIC, she brought her stepfather’s ashes into the meeting with her “so he’d be with me when they voted.”

On the day of this interview, she points to a small dog in a nearby cage and says, “That was his dog. Both my dads would be very proud of me.”

But it isn’t just her fathers’ pride, or even her own financial concerns, that led Coppa to start her own business. 

“I’m not doing this for me. I’m doing it for my grandkids. I want them to be able to have everything they want in life and not have to worry about where it’s coming from,” she says.

It was John Torma, East Liverpool City Council president, who encouraged Coppa to open her own business when she was grooming his three pups at another shop, assuring her she would attract sufficient clientele to make it successful and telling her about the CIC’s revolving loan program of which she was unaware.

“And, sure enough, he was right,” she says, smiling. During the Christmas season, she and her two employees groomed 249 dogs, with 182 brought in for grooming before Easter, she says.

Her latest plan is to use the rear of the block building where her shop is, which once housed Handy’s Sales and Service, for the doggy day care, saying there is also a high demand for overnight lodging that she may add in the future if feasible with city zoning.

She doesn’t anticipate major renovations to the building in preparation for the doggy day care, other than some drainage, bolting cages to the floor and the addition of an antibacterial carpet.

Coppa hopes to open the day care by the end of June, offering space for eight to 10 dogs, as well as an indoor play area. 

Many people, she says, look for day care for their dogs that are on medication because they can’t be home to administer it throughout the day, noting, “I can distribute it as long as it’s prescribed by a vet.” 

Sometime in the future, she also is eyeing a pet cafe at the rear of the building, noting there are currently few local businesses that accommodate pets.

Coppa says she never thought she would be in this position, saying, “That CIC and all those board members are excellent. All they want to see is somebody succeed. For [friend and CIC President] Pat Scafide to say to me, ‘I’m very, very proud of you,’ means the world to me. I keep telling myself I’m not gonna fail; I’m not gonna fail.”

Pictured at top: Michelle Coppa, owner of Coppa’s Mutts & Cuts in East Liverpool, soaps up Blue at her shop, which will soon expand to include doggy day care.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.