Beloved Hoboken Dog Groomer Loses 2 Employees During the Pandemic — Now the Community is Rallying Behind Her

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There isn’t a person or a business that hasn’t been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Some essential companies have their staff working around the clock and putting themselves at risk, while other businesses have been shut down for weeks are waiting on government funding and a timeline to reopen safely. And many people are learning to manage work, families, and much-needed personal time in a brand new way. The Hoboken and Jersey City communities have rallied around many businesses, showing support however possible — purchasing gift cards, to-go kits, delivery, and setting up donation-based fundraisers to help them stay afloat and make it to the next phase of this challenging time.

Erica Li, of Grooming by Erica Li, is a local resident, business owner, former Hoboken Girl of the Week, cancer survivor, and dog lover. Many rely on her for dog grooming services and feel a deep sense of trust in leaving their furry friends in her care. During the COVID-19 pandemic Erica has had two employees succumb to health issues, both COVID related and otherwise. She hasn’t been able to receive any government loans or financial help, so loyal customers are coming to her rescue.

Her Journey to Dog Grooming

Erica’s dog grooming business is located at 155 4th Street in Hoboken. Erica became a licensed groomer after working a corporate job for over 30 years. After being let go from her job, her daughter {local fitness instructor Dana Chau} suggested she go to grooming school — Erica had a few of her own pups and the mother/daughter duo figured that even if it didn’t turn into a career, then Erica could learn to groom their dogs herself and prevent them from the stress of going to the groomers every few weeks.

Erica worked as a groomer at the Hoboken Dog Wash for a few years before getting the opportunity to open to her own space.

The highlight of my career [was] when Heather Gaida, owner of Trusty Tail Pet Care, approached me to rent space from her property. I’ve always wanted to open my own grooming shop, but finding the right space in Hoboken is very challenging. But thanks to Heather, I have a cute and cozy shop of my own,” Erica told us. 

She’s also been in remission for two years after beating ovarian cancer, barely stopping her grooming business while she was undergoing treatments.

erica li dog groomer

And that hard work, dedication, and love for animals has created quite the name for Erica in Hoboken — among animals and people alike — she was our Hoboken Girl of the Week last May — as well as voted “Best Groomer in Hoboken” winner for our Best of 2019 Guide.

See More: 11 Happy News Stories to Add Some Cheer to Your Day

The Impact from COVID-19

Of course, we all know someone who has been affected by COVID-19, both health-wise or economically. For Erica, it’s been both. As a small, local dog grooming business that is not considered essential during this time, there is fear about being able to re-open when it’s safe and allowed.

But if that isn’t enough, tragically, in the last month, Erica has lost two employees — one from COVID complications, and the other from a non-COVID health issue.

Both employees were highly-regarded groomers at Erica’s business and both happened to be single parents. Upon their passing, Erica was instrumental in setting up Go Fund Me campaigns {found here and here} for both of their families at these incredibly difficult times.

Her first employee, Jose, passed away due to COVID-related complications in early April. Erica immediately worked to set up a Go Fund Me for his family.

“Jose was my friend and assistant. He was a quiet man who was hardworking and caring. As a single father, he worked 2 jobs to raise his son Joey, and put him through college. His sudden death is a huge loss to his son both emotionally and financially. I appeal to my friends to donate, in any amount, so that his son can give him a proper memorial service, and finish college which was what Jose worked hard for,” she wrote on the page.

“I will miss him dearly, work won’t be the same without him when this nightmare we’re living in is over.”

But then, just a week later, her other assistant passed away due to non-COVID cardiac issues.

“He passed away 2 nights ago from non-covid related cardiac arrest, leaving behind a daughter,” Erica wrote on her assistant’s Go Fund Me.

“Henry was a single father who worked hard all his life to raise his child. He was a true and devoted animal lover who rescued them as well as helped getting them placed in good homes. He was a man of integrity, a loyal friend, and he will be sorely missed by those who knew him. Rest In Peace my friend, we love you!

See More: Tips to Managing Anxiety + Regulating Emotions, According to a Therapist

The Community Comes Together for Their Beloved Groomer

Without receiving the necessary money from the government, like many businesses, the fate of Grooming by Erica Li is up in the air. “I’ve applied, but still haven’t received anything,” she shared on her Facebook Page.

Some locals and devout customers knew they had to do something.

Ana Ampudia, a long time client of Erica’s grooming services, put together a Go Fund Me campaign to help provide support to Erica during this time.

Erica is the groomer I use for my dogs and she’s great with them — they love her. She cares for them as if they are her own. She’s always there when I have a question or need a last-minute appointment. I would hate to see her suffer further,” Ana told Hoboken Girl.

How to Show Support

You can help keep Grooming by Erica Li afloat by donating to the Go Fund Me, purchasing a gift card for grooming services to be used at a later time, or sharing the campaign with others. One thing we all want is for our favorite businesses + owners to open their doors as soon as they safely can, so any support you can give is greatly appreciated.

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Written by:

Morgan is a career copywriter and copy editor with a background in small business marketing. Her professional work has been across many business verticals such as medical, web security, health + wellness, lifestyle, and consumer goods. She also had an original play produced at the Mile Square Theatre in Hoboken in June 2019. When not writing, she can be found in Sephora buying unnecessary amounts of makeup or teaching a yoga class at the Hudson Yoga Project. She works from her home office in Hoboken with her rescue dog Bowie.


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