Bristol, Va., may not be close to Richmond, but it's always close to our hearts.
Which is why we don't mind going a bit left of Short Pump to talk about Bristol-bred entrepreneur Bobby Griffin and his "Bowser Coin Operated Self-Service Pet Wash" — a concept that conjures mental images of angry cats emerging dripping from dented dishwashers, barely escaping with their other eight lives from Kenmore's deadly "sanitary/heat-dry" setting.
Fortunately for the four-legged citizens of Virginia's westernmost outpost, Griffin's idea is better conceived than that. His $5 wash "has passed all expectations" since its grand opening in January, making it his third wildly successful commercial venture (he earned his first fortune by marketing a cardboard car mat of his own design back in the 1960s). The wash — conveniently located off I-81, exit 7, at Griffin's Lee Highway Car Wash — gives pet owners eight minutes of access to Griffin's specially designed industrial tub setup, complete with shampoo, rinse and blow dry. What better way to give your old dog that new-car smell?
"People are spending money like crazy on their pets," says Griffin, pleased to have tapped into a seemingly bottomless financial well that has long been drilled with Exxon-like efficiency by PetSmart. "It's just a matter of being sure you have a good product. You build a better mousetrap, as they say, and people come to your door."
Griffin's next pet trick? Franchises. "I can set you up, no problem," he says.