The Coast News Group
Angie Laux, owner of Salty Dog Boutique and Groomery in Carlsbad Village, works on Schatzi, a poodle, on Nov. 2. The Village was ranked No. 3 by for small business in the U.S. Photo by Steve Puterski

Carlsbad Village ranks third for small-business friendliness

CARLSBAD — A spotlight is shining on Carlsbad Village after Welcomemat Services, a national marketing agency, ranked the neighborhood No. 3 in the U.S. for small businesses.

Naila Sfeir, who owns the North County Welcomemat franchise, said the service focuses on new movers and new residents to each city and works with small businesses to drive traffic and customer loyalty. The rankings covered more than 350 neighborhoods.

Welcomemat’s rankings are developed from response demographics, volume of new movers, community commitment to shop local, popularity and walkability, sense of community, business density and survey data from franchisees.

Carlsbad Village came in behind Grapevine, Texas, and Roswell, Georgia, while Oceanside checked in at No. 17 nationally.

“It’s new mover marketing, in particular,” Sfeir said. “We’re a cheerleader and champion for small business. When a family moves to a community, they will get a mailing from Welcomemat with all sorts of gift offers instead of trying to figure out where to go.”

Angie Laux is a relative newcomer to the Village, as she opened Salty Dog Boutique and Groomery, 3095 State Street Suite D, in June. Growth has been steady, she said, noting a 20 percent increase each month to her full-service shop.

Although the word is spreading, Laux said marketing is a big challenge for small businesses, but a necessity to survive. She signed with Sfeir several weeks ago and is aiming to target the latest residents to the city before they can scope out the competition.

“It’s been awesome,” Laux said. “It’s a great way to get in with people. There’s so many grooming salons in North County, it’s hard to find one that you can actually trust. So, I am glad we’re able to get in there before they go somewhere else that might not be as good as us.”

Despite three other groomers in the Village, Laux said there are plenty of dogs and cats to go around. The lack of saturation with groomers in the Village makes for an easier opportunity to gain a client base.

She used to work in Cardiff, where there are numerous shops all fighting for the same customers. Laux eventually decided to go out on her own, along with her mother, Tina, and sister, Sally.

Her success has come so rapidly she is looking to add another groomer, possibly two, in the coming months.

“We have anywhere from 30 to 60 new clients per month,” Laux said. “I would love to get another groomer in here. I don’t see us opening a new location. We like to keep it tight. We can fit another two groomers in here easily.”

As for deciding on the Village, she said the location came down to two other finalists, Encinitas and Rancho Santa Fe. Encinitas was too dense with groomers and Rancho Santa Fe was too far, especially with traffic, Laux said.

She said the appeal of the Village is its walkability and small-town vibe, along with the ability to set up with the Carlsbad Village Association and Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce. The CVA, Laux added, was a valuable resource in jump-starting her new venture, as she didn’t know how to navigate the challenges of opening a business.

“I didn’t really know where to start … as far as how to get my name out there,” Laux said of the CVA. “They’ve been really great. It’s been all this super cute, small-town stuff where we can get to know everyone.”