When money is tight there are just some things that we must learn to live without, and more of us are finding more ways to cut back. That means fewer dinners at our favorite restaurants, shorter vacations and squeezing the last miles out of an older car.
There are also small pleasures in life that many are simply unwilling to let go. In fact, scrimping in other areas might allow for little indulgences that become all the more meaningful.
At Bertuca Salon, 7406 Madison, owner Vicki Bertuca estimated that one-third of her clients regularly come in for a little pampering and she has been pleasantly surprised to see that demand hold steady in recent months. The business has offered discounts and other promotions to keep customers coming back, but Bertuca said there may be an element of defiance at work, too.
“They’re not giving up their manicures and their pedicures,” Bertuca said of her clientele. “I think they’ve given up a lot of stuff, but they still want to pamper themselves.”
Several business owners in Forest Park who deal in small luxuries said the trick their customers seem to have grasped is moderation. Overall, cash registers aren’t as busy as they used to be, said a number of proprietors, but people find ways to hold on to those experiences that make them feel better.
Debbie Vogt, a stylist at Bertuca, said her regulars who used to have a standing appointment every four to six weeks now come in every six to eight weeks.
“For the most part they’re still very loyal,” Vogt said.
At Todd & Holland, owner Bill Todd said tea drinkers tend to be a dedicated bunch. That’s good news for a business in which a quarter pound of tea leaves can fetch $90 or more. But making a commitment to drinking tea is also good for those who partake, said Todd, because the ritual can provide serious relief when anxiety runs high.
Boiling the water, letting the leaves steep and allowing the brew to cool takes time. A cup of hot tea can be a 25 minute process, said Todd, and that’s not a bad thing.
“If you’ve gone through all of that, you’re going to take a minute to enjoy it,” Todd said. “It lets you prioritize your life and actually view what’s on your agenda. It forces you to downshift.”
Since 1999, Terri Clark has been providing massages to area residents at her studio, Sepheryn Massage, now located on Harrison at the corner of Circle. She, too, has offered discounts and special pricing, but in times like these it’s not always enough. Those clients with families, said Clark, are the ones she sees less often now that times are tough. However, Clark said she has a list of “diehards” who trust her touch to ease lingering ailments or provide a relaxing respite.
“This is so valuable to them for their stress management,” Clark said of her massage services.
Primarily, Clark caters to those seeking a specific physical relief and has come to specialize in treating migraine headaches. But in addition to easing a client’s discomfort, Clark said there is a very real benefit to feeling cared for. Massage – perhaps more so than other spa-type services – puts skin to skin. The sensation of a neutral touch can have a calming effect.
“It’s that special attention,” Clark said.