by Lisa Gregory, photography by Nikola Tzenov

Service Providers Bring Time-Saving Services Right to Your Doorstep

There was a time when the milkman delivered your milk to your door and the doctor paid you a house call when you were ill. Then life became more modernized and that all went away — or did it?


There is an adage that what is old is new again. During the last few years, and especially during the pandemic and resulting quarantine, our society has come to depend more and more on what can be brought to our door. And thanks to online retailers like Amazon, we were already well on our way to this trend before COVID. In fact, the same-day delivery market in the United States has been projected to grow by $9.82 billion between 2020 and 2025.

Chris Sontag

As a result, many businesses have evolved to provide services in a way that best serves the customer. In Carroll County, individuals can get haircuts, car detailing, massages and pet grooming all without ever leaving home.

“We live in a world of convenience now with Uber and Instacart and Door Dash and Chewy,” says Chris Sontag, who began operating his Man Cave Mobile Barber Shop this past summer. “People just love convenience now. So if you can take it to the next level and make people happy that way, that’s a bonus.”

“People don’t have enough time in their lives, so they are trying to save time,” said Roland T. Rust, a professor of marketing at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland at College Park. “And they have gotten more used to cocooning at home during the pandemic. So this is just another way to do business.”

Chris Sontag,
Man Cave Mobile Barber Shop

And those like Sontag are happy to oblige them. Sontag, a third-generation barber, began working at his father’s Krysztof’s Barber Shop in Westminster when he was 19 years old. But since his wife, Heidi, was already running a mobile pet grooming service of her own — Shags 2 U Mobile Pet Spa — the leap into offering his barbering skills on the road as well as in the barber shop was a natural progression. He has discovered that many of his clients “just love it now when they don’t have to leave the house.” Sontag also serves clients at their places of work.

Rachel Gildersleeve and her husband Tommy, who both work full time and are the parents of two young children — Thomas, 7, and Brynlee, 3 — certainly appreciate the mobile option. “There’s only so much time in a day,” says Rachel. “To stay home for a 10-minute haircut is a lot better.”

Sontag, a father himself, understands this well. With his mobile service, “You don’t have to get your kids ready, get in the car, drive to the barber shop, wait at the barber shop, get your hair cut and drive home,” he says.

Rob Reda

And Rachel’s son, Thomas, enjoys the coziness of the “man cave” with its sports memorabilia and absence of other people. He can even get his hair cut while still in his pajamas. “It’s one-on-one,” says Rachel. “Just us out in the mobile shop.”

And while the idea of coming to one’s door is desired by many clients, it is also beneficial for those like Rob Reda who want to spend more time with his own family.

“I love it,” says Reda, who owns Reda’s Mobile Detailing in Westminster, of not being confined to a building day in and day out. “I work when I want. I don’t work when I don’t want to.”

Reda, who has experience working in automobile service and parts departments, began his mobile business as a part-time effort to make some extra money. “Then it just took off,” he says.

Rob Reda, Reda’s Mobile Detailing, brings everything to you, including water and electric.

Reda is totally self-sufficient. “I bring my own water. I bring electric,” he says. “I can work in the middle of an industrial park or a farm or at somebody’s house.”

And much like Sontag, customers are responding. “I have customers that I service quarterly, monthly and every week,” he says.

Reda schedules the appointment, goes there, does the work and then heads back home to his own family which includes three daughters. “I don’t want to miss time with them because one day my girls are not going to want me around,” he says with a chuckle.

Of course, Reda also takes great satisfaction in the fact that he is offering other families more time with their children as well. “They can go to the zoo or the aquarium or a football game in another vehicle while I’m cleaning their car,” he says. “They don’t have to be at home babysitting me.”

More than just a convenience, some would have to do without completely if not for mobile services. The option to stay home for, say for a massage, can be a real game-changer for those who are unable to get out.

Joy Loraw, owner of Therakneads Wellness Center provides clients an option to stay home if they are unable to get out.

“We can reach a population that may not be able to leave their home comfortably,” says Joy Loraw, a massage therapist and owner of Therakneads Wellness Center, which has locations in Westminster, Eldersburg and Woodbine, as well as co-owner of Rose Massage. “We’ve gone to Fairhaven [retirement community in Sykesville] and had some elderly clients there. Or we’ve had people recovering from surgery who aren’t able to drive themselves to an appointment. So we go to them.”

“It’s a way to still reach people in our community with our services,” she added. “People who need us but aren’t able to come to us.”

Then there are those who are able to travel but choose not to do so — those with pets, for example. For some, ferrying one’s fur baby to the groomers or vet can be traumatizing for pet and owner.

“Some dogs vomit in the car,” says Emily Oas, owner of Em’s Pawdicures, a mobile service that goes into homes to trim the nails of dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and bearded dragons. “Your cat screams the entire way to the vet. Or you have an older pet who has trouble getting into the car because of arthritis. If you could stay home with them, why wouldn’t you?”

Emily Oas and Lola

The idea of Em’s Pawdicures, which operates out of Finksburg, began during the quarantine. “It started with me just helping people trim the nails of their pets when so many businesses were closed,” says Oas, who worked as a kennel technician during college.

But the demand for her services became so great that she decided to create a business. “I am at a little over 300 clients a month,” she says.

The home-based experience can be delightful for both pet and owner.

“For example, a dog will just stay in their little dog bed,” she explains. “I come up and do their nails. I bring a little vacuum with me to clean up when it’s done. It takes 15 minutes. Then the dog can go back to napping.”

Clients like Lyndsay Morris of Westminster swears Oas is the cat whisperer when it comes to nail trimming. “I have a cat with horrible anxiety,” says Morris of her cat, Leia. “She has trust issues. But Emily was successful.”

And all without Leia ever leaving the house.