Welcome to MassageStore.Com, and thank you for your interest, as well as your business. Before telling you who we are, and how we got here, I first want to share with you our philosophy in selling the products that we do, and providing exemplary service to you as our customer.
We want you as a customer for life, and happy every time you shop with us. We hope that you tell your colleagues, school mates, friends, family, and social media networks about us. We sell brands, products, and services that not only we believe in, but also use in our daily lives / massage, spa, chiropractic practice. We want you to be satisfied with what you buy, and will do everything possible to make your transaction a pleasant one by treating you fairly and reasonably. We treat our customers as we want to be treated, and hope you will be fair and reasonable with us as well.
Ok, so now that that is out of way, here is a little about my / our journey of over 20 years in the massage & spa industry as a content writer, dvd & video producer, educator, director of operations for a group of massage, shiatsu, personal training schools, product developer, patent holder, hot stone lover, and more.
My name is Andrew Kamchi, and I work for the Institute for Therapeutic Massage (ITM), the Institute for Massage & Spa Therapy Education (IMSTE), The Education Source (Bongers, Thumbsavers, MassageStore), and Manakatana Corp (Best Of Nature, SpaBodywork Market, Urban Lumberjack).
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
MassageStore.Com is actually an extension of the school store for ITM, and continues to serve its students today by providing a physical store in Eatontown, NJ, and through this website.
When I first met Lisa Helbig, the founder of ITM, in 2003, she was looking for a director of education for her growing massage school. While the educational side of the business was interesting to me, having already been a dean of a technical school, I was actually more excited by the opportunities on the operations side of the business. As Director of Operations, one of my responsibilities was to oversee a small room in the basement that had a few card tables piled high with shirts, bottles and holsters on it, affectionately known as the 'school store'. She also had hot stone video, a small website that sold packages of hot basalt stones, chakra / gem stones, cold marble stones and dvds on how to use them in various massage and spa modalities. I spoke with the students, found out what they wanted us to offer in the form of discounted massage and spa supplies, and started adding brands to our offerings such as Biotone, Oakworks, Earthlite, Stronglite, Custom Craftworks, Real Bodywork, Santa Barbara Cream, and more.
'Hot Stones' (heated is more accurate, and safe) were becoming extremely popular at this time, so I started reaching out to suppliers and educators and met Pat Mayrhofer of Nature Stones Inc. This relationship proved to be pivotal for our business, for it allowed us to become well educated in the art and science of applying heated basalt and cold marble stones to the body during various massage and spa treatment modalities - it is now common during manicures and pedicures. We slowly expanded our product and service offerings, became more involved in the wholesale industry, and evolved into one of the largest stone suppliers to the retail massage & spa trade worldwide. We had relationships with companies in Australia, Bermuda, Canada, Europe, Central and South America. We also began producing more educational content and videos, offering CEU's for people who wanted to earn credits while learning remotely.
Pat and I worked closely together for almost 14 years developing new products and education for companies such as ThStone, TIR Massage Stone, Rubrocks, Hand And Stone, and several other spas. Pat was also very close friends with Dianna Dapkins of Pure Pro, who had developed the best water dispersible Ultra Massage Oil to be used during hot stone massage. Dianna is committed to making high quality, therapeutic grade massage products so that people with medical conditions, most notably cancer, can safely be treated, and massaged with them. Being that ITM has an Oncology Massage Training Program, this was a match made in heaven, and we established close ties with her and her company. In 2018, Pat decided to retire, and we remain the exclusive distributor of her branded videos and stone sets, while continuing her legacy of excellence in product development and education.
With more students learning massage, new classes being offered, and a very busy clinic, we started getting requests for brands and supplies that we had never carried before. Being that our 2nd biggest location was in Red Bank, NJ, we developed a close working relationship with Best of Nature, who provide us with essential oils, and other equipment, supplies and accessories for our students and classes. At the same time we developed relationships with other brands that included Sacred Earth Botanicals, Thumbsavers, Thumbby, The Goddess Line, Ben Benjamin, Bill Helm / The Taoist Sanctuary, Jennifer Kries / True Mind Media, HandL, Karyn Chabot of Sacred Stone Healing, RalphStephens, Reflexology Seminars of NY, The Pressure Positive Company, Thumbby, Thumbsavers, and many more. We started noticing a trend in that we were working with smaller companies, many female owned and run, that shared the same values and vision that Lisa did. Quality products at a discount / fair price became an unwritten mantra of ours.
EBAY & AMAZON
With the school store bursting at the seams, we started looking for new ways to sell all of this amazing product, and began building our presence on eBay. We now have 15+ years of experience, a 100% positive feedback rating, and reviews from almost 11,000 customers.
In 2009, while online at the post office, someone said we should try our hand on this newer venue (for product) called Amazon, and we threw our hat in that ring as well. We had to switch accounts a few years ago, but have maintained a 100% seller feedback rating on over 6000 reviews.
We realized that by buying larger quantities from the manufacturers, and selling on the marketplaces, we could lower our costs, charge less when selling on the marketplaces, and maintain competitive pricing, even when paying ever increasing seller fees. These sales also helped us continue to innovative our medically based education programs, such as the Oncology Massage Certification Program - approved by COMTA.
It was access to a worldwide customer base that again helped us take our business to the next level as far as demand and sales were concerned. Some of the smaller companies that we were working with couldn't keep up with the demands of a changing e-commerce environment, asked us to buy out their remaining inventory, and left the industry. Others thrived and offered to work with us exclusively since we were able manage the dynamic and challenging omni-channel sales model that is continuing to evolve in the retail landscape while remaining a small, independent, female owned company. One of the companies that chose to work with us exclusively is Bongers, the handheld tapping massage and trigger point tool. Thumbsavers followed suit, and as a long standing customer, we were presented with the opportunity to license, and eventually purchase the Thumbsavers massage tool (as well as its molds and patent) from the founder, Greg Polins.
Selling on eBay, and now Amazon, has become bigger than we ever expected, and we soon grew out of the school store locations in Pompton Lakes and Haskell. 4 Warehouses and 2 states later, we have once again relocated the school store to what we believe will our final destination, and a partnership with Best of Nature and SpaBodywork Market that began ceremoniously over 20 years ago. What was once a business relationship has become a partnership of like minded individuals dedicated to the dying art of customer service (in the vain of Zappos), and based on serving our community as well as the students of massage & bodywork, here in New Jersey as well as other school locations nationwide.
MORE ABOUT ITM
ITM was established in 1994 by Lisa Helbig, in a single classroom, because she wanted to share her love for massage, and to meet the growing need for highly skilled therapists while helping students obtain the knowledge and professional skills they would need to thrive as bodywork practitioners. Lisa was also instrumental in the development of other massage and aesthetician schools (both before and after opening ITM), massage based curriculums, hospital based massage programs, community / charity based outreach, CEU based videos, and a book on hot stone massage.
Over time, through word of mouth and an increasing network of community based relationships, it grew into 6 classroom locations, 5 hospital affiliations, offering 5 courses of study (including a dual certification program for Massage Therapy and Personal Training, the first COMTA Accredited Oncology Massage Program, and Shiatsu / Eastern Bodywork), several certifications, and over 35 different continuing education (CE) programs to help students and professionals learn various aspects of the healing arts. The school also donated its time, resources, and school store products to support various charities including Gildas Club and Dina Manzo's Project Ladybug from Real Housewives of New Jersey.
Outside Our Red Bank, NJ Location
ITM is Accredited by The Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA), which is the only specialized accreditor recognized by the United States Department of Education with a primary focus on massage education. It is approved by Approved by U.S. & New Jersey Department of Education (DOE), The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork(NCBTMB), and a member of The American Massage Therapy Association Council of Schools (AMTA) and American Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP).
ITM Winning An Edu-Scholarship Award From Biotone & Comta
Graduating therapists found employment opportunities to be numerous, including working for hospitals, chiropractors, physical therapists, and other medical professionals who encouraged their patients to receive massage and adopt a healthier, active lifestyle. Spas and resorts were also eager to employ ITM's students, and large corporations began offering on-site massage therapists and fitness centers as a way to reduce employee stress and absenteeism.
Sadly, in 2018, Lisa unexpectedly passed away due to medical complications following surgery, and ITM’s staff remains deeply committed to Lisa’s vision and embodies her standards of excellence in education.
We look forward to helping you Find Every Thing You Need.
Andrew Janet Jeff Kira Lucas Orlando Simmone -The Massage Store Team