Three times a week, Just U Relax's owner and principal massage therapist paid a 90-minute visit to one of her favorite clients, an elderly Italian woman who could barely speak a word of English. One day after a visit, the woman's daughter called and asked the massage therapist if she could come back again right away, saying her mother was not doing well. She arrived and set to work massaging her client's body, much of which had collapsed inward from a previous stroke. But instead of seeing the usual results, such as the woman's hands relaxing for a short time before tightening back into a bound position, the massage therapist saw her client maintain her peaceful composure. Then, this elderly Italian woman who could speak little English, let alone speak at all due to the effects of her stroke and Alzheimer's disease, looked at her massage therapist and said with perfect clarity, "Thank you." The woman's daughter called later, saying her mother died that evening, and that she wanted to say thank you for giving her mother such comfort before she passed. It was that moment that made the massage therapist realize she knew she could help people.
Raised by a cardiologist, the future owner of Just U Relax and her brother made a pact to go to medical school together, but when she found herself disenchanted by clinical environments and desiring a more hands-on approach to patient care, she explored massage therapy. Today, she and her team of licensed massage therapists at Just U Relax assess posture, gait, and occupational stress to customize bodywork for each client. The staff sees to guests' comfort in a variety of ways, including giving visitors warm robes and plush slippers, using massage tables with triple-cotton-padded tops, and playing relaxing music as aromatherapy wafts between rooms. Therapists also offer clients snacks such as fruit smoothies and granola bars. Additionally, each therapist is required to undergo at least three hours of training each month to learn new massage techniques and stay sharp.
An avid cyclist, the owner of Spin Bike Shop helms a staff of certified mechanics and professional racers. Together, they keep their shelves stocked with bikes for all seasons and activities: cyclocross races, road riding, triathlons, mountain trails, and moon jumping. Inside, shoppers can peruse cycles from big-name brands such as Specialized, BMC, Ridley, and Santa Cruz. Mechanics perform a slew of services—such as fittings, repairs, demo-bike rides, and rentals. Staff members also teach classes on how to make basic roadside repairs, perform complete tune-ups, or use a bike frame to fend off an agitated mountain lion. When the staffers aren’t wrenching on bikes, they’re hosting events and welcoming cyclists and triathletes to join their teams and clubs.
In addition to being stocked with gallery-wrapped canvas prints, ARTWALL acts as a print licensing agent, keeping a large stock of canvas on hand for prints of famous paintings. When the staffers aren't selling ready-made prints, they create custom ones with customers' artwork and photographs.
Named among the top five local craft stores by Fox 8 City Voter, the shop serves as a workshop for burgeoning crafters, as well as a gift shop and a source for inspiring seasonal project ideas. Staff artists teach workshops in three crafting genres: jewelry, housewares, and needle arts, offering a well-rounded curriculum that helps students with all-around constructive knowledge. Just as fish parents drop their babies into the water to teach them how to swim, teachers instill the fundamentals of handicraft by walking students through their first project during classes. Inside the eclectic gift shop, more than 65 local artists display handmade loot such as purses, hair accessories, pottery, and greeting cards, each unique in design. The community-minded store also encourages crafters of all skill levels to gather under its roof, whether to trade inspiration, project ideas, or swap unneeded craft supplies.
American Greetings invites friends, family, and co-workers to stay in touch and send good tidings with the largest collection of electronic greetings on the Web. From the comfort of a couch or lair beneath an opera house, subscribers can dispatch messages of love with e-cards for every occasion, such as birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. Like his and hers velcro suits, the site gives well-wishers a number of options, such as personalizing humorous or heartfelt e-card messages to send now or later, posting e-cards to friend’s Facebook walls, or text-bombing masses of greetings right to their mobile phones. A wide variety of store-quality printables let users edit text, add photos and art, and print cards and accompanying envelopes, good for lighting up a special someone’s day or stuffing into their microwaves. With easy-to-use interfaces and reminder services, card slingers will reach new heights on the thoughtfulness scale.