After 30 years in business, and 27 years on Main Street, pet groomer Kim Beach will retire in June. Klips By Kim is the oldest standing business in the city of Buckley.
“I’ve worked every Saturday for the past 30 years,” Beach said. “It’s time to get out there and find out what happens on Saturday.”
Beach began grooming pets in the city of Midway immediately after graduating high school in 1976. She briefly moved on to bar tending and working in an insurance office but, as she put it, “always went back to the dogs.”
She opened Klips By Kim in the back room of an Enumclaw veterinary office in 1983. Every day for three years she drove from her home in Bonney Lake to Enumclaw, never giving Buckley a glance as she passed through. Quite literally, she couldn’t: the train tracks passing through town rested on a hump that blocked the view of Main Street.
One day, Beach decided to see what she had been missing. She drove over the hump into the city proper and almost immediately spotted the “For Rent” sign on 729 Main Street, where she still does business today. Having grown fond of Buckley, she and her family eventually moved into town.
“I still have my first business license,” Beach said. “I bought it for $10, it’s a business license signed by the mayor at that time, and for its expiration date it read ‘Good indefinitely.’”
Washington state laws changed and overrode the indefinite license, but its one of many “firsts” Beach has kept around, from her first dollar to her first customer. Sandra “Sandy” Thomas and her husband Richard, along with dog Buffy, were Beach’s first clients in Buckley, circa March 1986. Thomas remains a regular customer. Clients from as far away as Federal Way, Yelm and Seattle—“snowbirds” who patronized Klips in Enumclaw on their way to the ski slopes—are still regulars.
Beach estimated she’s groomed 75,000 dogs over the course of her career. When dogs passed on, she shared in their owners’ grief. When they moved on and started anew with a pup, she welcomed them into her extended animal family.
“Some of them come every four weeks, so they’re like my dogs,” she said. “I really had… I could read a dog. I love cats too, but I usually hired someone who exclusively groomed cats. I love dogs for dogs; it’s more or less all I’ve done.”
Beach also insinuated herself intimately into the Buckley community, acting at different times as a cub scout leader, president and vice president of the chamber of commerce. She’s sponsored sports clubs and school programs, participated in the Log Show Parade, and once ran the city newspaper. She supported the construction of the city skate park.
Beach and her husband will continue to live in Buckley, but they intend to travel and enjoy family life; their first grandchild is expected in March. Intended destinations include Tahiti, Belize and tropical Indiana, where Beach’s sister lives.
As for Klips By Kim and its building, which Beach owns, she has yet to decide whether to sell the business, shutter the business and lease the space, or shutter the business and sell the building.