Spotlight: Why One Entrepreneur Took Over a Massage Heights Business During Pandemic Shutdowns

Lots of businesses closed during the early days of COVID-19. And some business owners decided to walk away from their ventures entirely.

But there are also those that took over or dove into entrepreneurship after these closures. Tracy Welsh is one such entrepreneur. She jumped into a challenging industry during the height of the pandemic by taking over a Massage Heights business. Read her story in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Offers massage and spa services.

Welsh told Small Business Trends, “We provide members and guests with professional, affordable and resort-quality massage, skincare and wellness services. We also offer an array of elevated add-ons, including hot stone therapy, hemp massage, healing foot scrubs, and skincare upgrades like powerful masks, peels and boosters. We also have a fully stocked retail section that includes a high-end skincare line and products that members appreciate.”

Business Niche

Providing a clean, friendly environment.

Welsh says, “Our business is known for taking customer service to the next level. We have very high attention to detail, and we always make sure to ask and remember what is happening in our guests’ and members’ lives. Many people don’t always get a lot of human interaction throughout their day, so we make sure to provide comfort and familiar faces. And for those who aren’t looking for interaction and prefer to relax, we respect that and ensure everyone is getting what they need from us. Throughout the pandemic, we have prioritized sanitization and cleanliness, as we want all of our massage therapists, guests, and members to feel healthy and safe.”

How the Business Got Started

Taking over after closures.

Welsh explains, “The business was originally opened by the previous owner, Angela, who built two Retreats, about 30 miles apart, from the ground up. I worked with Angela for years as a former Retreat Director but found myself at a crossroads when she announced she wouldn’t reopen her Retreats after the state-mandated shut-downs. That’s when I took a leap of faith and purchased the Cedar Rapids Retreat and absorbed the membership base from the other Retreat closure.”

Biggest Win

Retaining staff and members after the pandemic.

Welsh adds, “After 40 employees were displaced, we kept going, and not even a year and a half later. With only a month under our belt, our entire town was shut down after an on-land hurricane (derecho) hit, which was completely unchartered territory. We continued to push through the unexpected, and did whatever it took to stay open.”

Biggest Risk

Taking over during state-mandated shutdowns.

Welsh says, “Signing a ten-year franchise agreement is quite a commitment, along with the transition of Retreat Director to first-time franchise owner. When I bought the location, it wasn’t even legal to open at that point. And it was scary to not know when I could open, especially during the pandemic. Despite being a lot of unknowns with the added pandemic stress, what I did know was that there was a lot I saw firsthand as a Retreat Director that I was now able to change as the owner and operator.”

Favorite Part of Running the Business

Meeting interesting people.

Welsh says, “There’s something new every day. While you can only anticipate so much, you get to meet a lot of great people. I have learned a lot from the people who come in, from the members to our massage therapists and estheticians. We’re always growing, and one day is never like the next.”

Favorite Quote

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

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Image: Massage Heights, Tracy Welsh

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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.