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Take a deep breath and relax

Despite economy, local spas doing well
By: Bridget Jones, Special to The Telegraph
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Many local residents are still willing to spend money to relax. Although local spa businesses have been affected by tough economic times, customers are still looking to them for comfort. “I think as far as the numbers go, it’s definitely slower than last year was,” said Janelle Harris, director of Asante Spa on Post Court in El Dorado Hills. “Given the economy, we’ve noticed a lot more massage (customers) coming in though. I think in this industry, and definitely in this area, women are still talking care of themselves.” Harris said she has noticed that some customers are trying to cut costs without giving up their spa experiences. “With the facials and stuff, people are buying products to take home to do their facials at home,” she said. “They still come in for facials, just not as often as they were.” While the economy has not had a huge effect on the spa, Harris said Asante employees still go through a guessing game of how much business each month will bring. “Every month’s different right now,” she said. “It’s kind of a, ‘Let’s see what this month has to give us.’ There’s definitely a change (in business), it’s just not a drastic change.” Business has been good for the Healing Station on Plaza Drive in Folsom, said owner Connie Chan, who runs the location with her husband Marc. The Healing Station has been open for a year and the couple has seen a 50 percent increase in business. “I’m very pleased with the progress we’ve made after a year in business,” Connie said. Connie said customers seem to think it’s more important than ever to visit a spa. “They need to get away from that stressful environment; stress brings on disease,” she said. “You have to face it, women still care about how they look.” Many people are using spa services as stay-cations, a term describing being on vacation while staying close to home. “For the price of a hotel room for a couple nights and gas (to go) somewhere, they can come for two and a half - three hours and get several services, and it’s less,” Connie said. “I think people are picking and choosing where they want to spend their money. They are stressed out so they’re looking for ways to relax and get rid of some of that stress.” Connie said two of the Healing Station’s most popular services currently are the 60-minute Swedish massage and eyebrow waxing. “Swedish massage to relax and the eyebrow waxing because we still want to look good,” Connie said. Bobbie Keill, a resident of Gold River who has been going to the Healing Station for about as long as its been open, said she is happy to spend the money on a spa experience because it helps get her through stressful times and gets her mind ready for work. “The Swedish massage is my favorite,” Keill said. “I think it’s really critical to take care of your physical body when you are feeling a lot of stress. I really use it as a time to kind of unwind. I use it as a forced meditative state. I find when I continue to do this it really allows me to get refocused and re-energized to go look for the business I need to do.” Melissa Brown, director of Alchemy Day Spa and Boutique on Sutter Street in Folsom, said she believes there are a couple reasons why customers are still getting spa treatments. “I think people are kind of more comfortable with what’s going on (in the economy) – they’re not so scared anymore,” Brown said. “I think even when money’s tight people still want to be healthy and take care of themselves.” Although economic challenges have affected her business, Brown said the spa is still doing well. “Obviously we’ve lost some clients because they’ve lost their jobs, but new people are always coming in, so it seems like (business is) about the same,” she said. “Generally March is a slower month for us, and it’s been really busy. We don’t really know what to expect – we’re just trying to be open and available to people.” Brown said family members and friends must be trying to help each other relax because massage gift card sales have gone up. Chuck Lewis, a Folsom resident who visits the Healing Station every two weeks for massages to help alleviate his chronic back pain, said treatments that help relax tense muscles are extremely necessary. “From a common stand point … when you’re having all these issues that are making your muscles tense … if there’s no release with that, it just compounds,” Lewis said. “It’s just a roller coaster one way down. (Massage) takes a lot of stress away and it makes you able to deal with tomorrow’s events.” Lewis said the money he pays for his massage therapy is meaningless compared to how well it helps ease his pain. “For the $100 to enable you to have a better perspective on life in general … that is the sole purpose why people should go take care of these things,” he said. Bridget Jones can be reached at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com.