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Mobile businesses bring the store to you

Whenever a sleek, white van pulls up in front of a large Cape in Wrentham, Mass., neighbors know that this is grooming day for the family's two dogs, Marley and Toy.

The van tells the story: Cheerful images of dogs and children decorate the sides, along with intriguing words: Zoomin Groomin and Mobile Pet Spa. Inside, state-of-the-art equipment enables groomers to wash, dry, and clip pets of all sizes.

"It offers a very peaceful environment," says Donna Sheehey, who bills herself as chief dog officer, or CDO, of Zoomin Groomin. "Pets think they're home the whole time."

"Have van, will travel" is becoming the mantra for a growing number of mobile businesses, both independent and franchised, whose colorful vehicles snake through cities and suburbs, delivering products and services to time-short customers. Specially outfitted vans offer new opportunities for mobility in everything from pet pampering to paper shredding, computer repair, auto detailing, and windshield replacement. Doctors may no longer make house calls, but entrepreneurs do, aided by cellphones, global positioning systems, and the Internet.

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