OAKHURST — A popular local pet groomer has been forced to close up shop.
Liz Hunter, who for nearly five years has operated “Liz is Grooming” inside the former Oakhurst Feed & Pet Supply, came in to her shop last Monday (Nov. 4) to find that her electricity was out.
“At first, I thought it was another PG&E power shut off,” Hunter said. “But I called PG&E and they said they didn’t know anything about it.”
So Hunter called the new property management company, Dana Butcher Associates. The Fresno-based company took over management of the Enterprise Center off Highway 49 on October 1.
According to a manager at Dana Butcher, the company “didn’t know anyone was still even in” the old Oakhurst Feed & Supply building.
“When the lady called us last week about her power being off, that was the first we’d ever heard of her,” said Nicole Flynn, property manager at Dana Butcher. “Then we found out she’d been subleasing a space from the previous business owners.”
“We felt really bad but we have to have a lease. We tried to help her find a new space but she said she was retiring soon.”
Flynn added that the company does have a potential client interested in leasing the old Oakhurst Feed & Pet Supply.
Hunter, 63, has been a dog and cat groomer in the mountain area for 20 years and had appointments scheduled through the end of this year, when she planned to retire to have shoulder surgery.
Hunter says she sent her $400 a month rent check for November at the end of October but later put a ‘stop payment’ on the check Nov. 5, the day after her power was shut off.
“I rented from Colette [Goga, previous owner at Oakhurst Feed & Supply] for the last four years but there was no written lease,” Hunter said. “It was all verbal. That was my mistake. I should’ve had something in writing.”
When Oakhurst Feed & Supply closed in September 2018, Hunter said she was told to write her rent checks to the center’s previous property manager. When Dana Butcher Associates became the new property manager, Hunter said she sent her first rent check to that company last month.
Flynn said since her company was unaware of Hunter’s sublease, they were a bit confused when her check arrived.
A representative from the property manager came by Hunter’s business last Friday (Nov. 8) while she was in the process of packing up. “He told me I needed to get him the keys as soon as possible,” Hunter said.
“This is not the way I planned to close my business. It’s not going to make things easy on me. But I’ll survive,” she said. “I just want to say how sorry I am to all my clients and customers.”
Hunter’s friends and customers have been rallying around the pet groomer.
“I was there last week when the man from the management company came to the store,” said Gayle Hawksworth, one of Hunter’s friends. “This is completely unfair to Liz.”
“Liz has tried to inform all of her clients but I know she feels badly that some will show up for their appointments and find an emptied business,” said Lynn Robertson, another friend.
“I could fight this thing but I really don’t need the stress,” Hunter said. “I get too wound up.”