The Pawber Shop Relocates to Ingleside for Better Opportunities

The Pawber Shop owners Hong Li and Michelle Saadeh. Alex Mullaney/Ingleside Light

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In late August, The Pawber Shop seamlessly relocated its business from West Portal to Ingleside.

“We were open on Saturday, moved on Sunday, organized on Monday and opened up here on Tuesday,” owner Michelle Saadeh told the Ingleside Light while Itchy, the diminutive poodle, looked on. “We were trying to avoid having to close.”

Since opening at its new location on Aug. 31, the pet groomer’s customers have switched over without any problems.

“Turns out a lot of our clients live even closer to here so that’s been good, but we’re not very far from West Portal to begin with, so we’re catering to the same group of people,” Saadeh said.

The addition of an established pet grooming business on the 1900 block of Ocean Avenue is a boon for the neighborhood retail district which struggled with a high rate of storefront vacancies even before the economic fallout caused by the pandemic.

“I am glad for another small business opening on Ocean Avenue and filling a vacancy,” said Peter Tham, co-owner of the Loc Tham Real Estate Group and member of the Ingleside Merchants Association. “This is what we need for the neighborhood’s economic recovery.”

Business Beginnings

The Pawber Shop was founded by Saadeh and her mother in 2010.

Saadeh, a native who grew up in the Richmond District, knew from a young age that she would work with animals.

“I actually really wanted to be a marine biologist,” she said. “And then I realized that I was terrified of the sea. I decided to stick to land animals. I didn’t intend on it being a forever thing at first, but it sort of just ended up that way.”

She took full ownership of the business in 2016.

The COVID-19 public health order forced the shop to close for three months in 2020, but the business bounced back.

Saadeh’s former storefront in West Portal didn’t afford growth and tiling the washing area wasn’t possible.

“I held out for as long as I could for something on West Portal,” Saadeh said. “But the right space for us just didn’t exist over there.”

Relocating to Ingleside

Earlier this year, she brought on Hong Li as a partner. Together they located what would become their new storefront on Ingleside’s stretch of Ocean Avenue.

“The space gave us an opportunity to really do what we needed and always wanted to do with our main area, which is tile it,” Saadeh said.

Renovations of the storefront’s main floor took a few weeks to complete. The shop, which services about 20 dogs per day, is outfitted with four grooming stations in the front and a washing area in the back. 

Once completely settled, Saadeh and Li will make use of the space’s basement and backyard to add dog day care services.

“Being able to have the opportunity to expand our business further than just grooming is a huge plus,” Saadeh said.

Mike Sorrels, co-owner of Ocean Paws, a pet supply shop that offers grooming, told the Ingleside Light his business is already getting referrals from The Pawber Shop.

“Everyone’s just super sweet and welcoming so far,” Saadeh said.

The Pawber Shop is located at 1963 Ocean Ave. For more information, visit thepawbershopsf.com.