The Bottom Line: Mesa dog groomer, PetsMart end legal snarling - East Valley Tribune: Business

The Bottom Line: Mesa dog groomer, PetsMart end legal snarling

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Posted: Wednesday, January 14, 2004 9:03 am | Updated: 5:46 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Donna Rager will keep on cutting dog hair.

Rager, owner of Aunt Donna’s grooming in Mesa, and PetsMart settled a lawsuit last week that will allow Rager to keep her shop open at Baseline and Extension roads.

When Rager went to work for PetsMart in July 1996, she signed noncompete and confidentially agreements that said she would not compete within five miles of a PetsMart. When she quit the store in April, she opened her 800-square-foot grooming business less than five miles from a PetsMart at Stapley Drive and Baseline Road.

Citing the agreement, the largest pet store in North America with more than 600 superstores sued in June saying the shop would "substantial, immediate and irreparable harm." It also alleged she took the company’s trade secrets, including confidential grooming training materials and customer contact information.

The company also accused Rager of recruiting at least two PetsMart groomers who also had signed a noncompete agreement.

At the time, Rager said she made $800 a week while spiffing up an average of 30 pooches.

Rager argued a copy of her agreement with the store says she cannot own, manage or operate any pet food or pet supplies retail business. She said it didn’t say anything about grooming.

During a settlement conference, PetsMart agreed to drop the suit if Rager doesn’t give away the company’s trade secrets or sell pet food or supplies until after April 20.

After months of haggling with the pet store giant, Rager says she’s out more than $7,000 in legal fees.

"They can’t come after me anymore," she said Monday. "I can’t go after them. If you believe in your convictions, no matter how big the other guy is, as long as you stand pat to what’s going on, you can still win."

SERIOUS BEDS

One-time Scottsdale-based Starwood Hotels & Resorts,

the largest hotel company in the world, is kicking off its world conference today in the Valley with a towel-folding competition and bed race.

Six teams made up of 25 hospitality students from state colleges including Arizona State University and Scottsdale Community College and a housekeeping coach from six Arizona Starwood Hotels, including The Phoenician, Westin Kierland Resort and Sheraton Wild Horse Pass

will compete from 5 to 9 .am. outside Phoenix Civic Plaza.

Dressed in their best pajamas, the teams will race the company’s name-brand beds on wheels, appointed, of course, with signature bedding representing Starwood brands — the Luxury Collection Bed, Westin’s Heavenly Bed, Sheraton’s Sweet Sleeper Bed, Four Points by Sheraton Bed, W Bed and the St. Regis Bed.

"I have always been somewhat astounded by how little hotel companies invest in their beds considering that our primary product is a good night’s sleep," said Barry Sternlicht, Starwood CEO.

BOTTOMS UP

It’s a nervous day for old time Las Vegas lovers. Harrah’s Entertainment says it will buy financially strapped Binions Horseshoe casino, one of the last family owned casinos in Nevada.

Before it closed Saturday, the downtown casino served up a stiff drink and was a slow, friendly and inexpensive place away from the garish lights of Sin City.

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