By ELISA ESSNER
Cherry Hill Massage is one of three local businesses joining forces to create an informal wellness facility in the Village’s Town Center.
The massage clinic currently operates in the Keystone Building, but will soon move to its third Cherry Hill location, 2400 Merchant St., Suite 105. Owner Andrea Morse and her two therapists, Jennifer Butterwick and Nicole Shelton, will share that space with the instructors at Pilates for Every Body and physical therapist Amy Cafer starting June 1.
Morse, who opened her clinic in 2006, said she hopes there will be a lot of integration between the three businesses.
“We’re hoping we’re able to cross-market and really make it a unique little group and, hopefully, a kind of wellness area,” she said.
Growing the business
Morse gave birth to her first son, Oliver, just over a year ago. She said when she learned she was pregnant, she began looking for creative ways to grow and manage her business.
“I wanted to be able to stay home with my son while building my business,” she said.
Morse knew she would need help if she wanted to maintain her clientele and be a full-time mom, and in October 2008, she hired Butterwick and Shelton.
Morse does not currently see any clients, though she intends to maintain her massage therapy license.
“I will never let that lapse,” she said. “If I ever need to fill in, if there’s a last-minute thing or someone was sick, I need to be able to provide that.”
The move to Merchant Street will give Cherry Hill Massage a second treatment room and a larger consultation area.
“I just keep moving around the square,” Morse said, adding that she hopes this move will be the last.
The space, which has previously been occupied by various restaurants, is being renovated by developer Roy Finley.
“(Finley) is working very hard at welcoming us to a peaceful and beautiful refinished space,” Morse said.
Morse and her therapists engage in just that: therapy. They’re committed to a healing touch.
Morse emphasized the “huge difference” between massage for relaxation and therapeutic massage.
She described relaxation massage as a superficial treatment found at higher-end spas.
“It’s just kind of a feel-good,” she said. “It’s great, there’s nothing wrong with it, but that’s not what our goal is.”
At Cherry Hill Massage, much more time is dedicated to client intake. Therapists spend at least 30 minutes with each patient to learn about lifestyle, past injuries, medical histories and anything else that might be contributing to the particular pain that the individual lives with.
“With therapeutic (massage), there’s gonna be something that needs fixed, something that needs worked on,” Morse said.
Cherry Hill Massage is a largely referral-based business. Most clients come in after considering other treatment options with their doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists. Morse emphasized that a massage is not a one-time fix; she compared the treatment process to regular tune-ups of a car.
“People will continue with massage all their lives. It definitely requires maintenance. We can alleviate a lot of body pains or migraines on site,” she said.
“But those are going to keep coming back with life. Whatever’s causing it, whether it’s your stress, whether it’s sitting at a desk. It’s just maintenance for your body. You can’t just go once and think, ‘I’ll never have to have a massage again.”
‘Wow, I could do this.’
Morse said her decision to become a massage therapist was a “no-brainer.”
After a minor car accident, her chiropractor prescribed massage therapy for whiplash, aches and pains.
“It wasn’t something I had ever experienced before. It was fantastic,” Morse said. “I thought, ‘Wow, I could do this.'”
Morse, who had been studying psychology at MU, enrolled at the Massage Therapy Institute in Missouri in 2005.
“It was a liberating year,” Morse said. “One of our first classes was kind of a self-awareness class. The teacher played Grateful Dead and we danced to it for an hour.
“And I was like, ‘This is a class? This is so cool!’ I didn’t attend any classes like that at Mizzou. It was just so awesome. It was really about getting self-awareness and getting to know about yourself and your body and the mind, body and spirit as a whole.”
Morse said she thinks a lack of education and a lack of awareness has led many people to the flawed assumption that “you just hurt, and this is how it’s going to have to be.”
But, she said, the alternative health industry has made great strides in promoting the importance of personal responsibility for healthy living.
“I think people are becoming aware of health and vitality,” Morse said. “I think that people are understanding, we really can feel good. We can feel great.”
She added that she has seen huge changes in Columbia since moving here just over 10 years ago; she pointed to the popularity of the local farmers market as an example of people choosing good health.
“I think Columbia is a great area for this to thrive and succeed,” Morse said, adding that she was drawn to the Village because of its development potential.
“This is just gonna blow up down here,” she said, indicating the construction on Scott Boulevard and Chapel Hill Road. “It’s a great spot for my business, for any business, really.”
The therapists at Cherry Hill Massage participate in various events throughout the community where they try to promote the benefits of therapeutic massage.
Butterwick and Shelton provide chair massages at downtown events like Artrageous Fridays and the Catacombs Art Market at Artlandish Gallery. Morse and her staff also partner frequently with Make Scents, a downtown fragrance shop. Cherry Hill Massage can also be hired for on-site chair massage at local businesses and special events.
Morse said she is also committed to supporting charities like the United Way.
“My husband, Erik, has been involved with the United Way for quite a few years now, and we support all the work they do for our community,” Morse said.
Cherry Hill Massage provides chair massages and gift certificates for United Way events and raises money for their efforts through percent-of-proceeds fundraisers.
“We really like to help out the community and be involved,” Morse said. “We want to be the massage therapy business that shows that we love what we do and we want everybody to know about it.”