Our round-up of the latest Wellesley, Mass., business news:
Relax: Laidback bringing massage chairs to town
The Belclare retail strip on Washington Street, which has been starving since last year to refill storefronts, will soon welcome Laidback, an outfit owned by a Dover couple that sells massage chairs and related services. Chairs can already be seen through the windows of the shop, which could be operating in some fashion as soon as next week (though the official opening is planned for after Labor Day).
Laidback, a play on the last names of owners Dave and Chris Laidman, represents a rebranding of their Engaged Wellness Solutions business at least for the store. Laidback also “conveys a feeling you’ll get when you experience the chair,” Dave says.
In addition to reselling Infinity Massage Chairs that go for $3,500-$10,0000, the Engaged Wellness offers services, which entail working with HR and wellness departments at businesses to bring massage chairs on site to help relax employees. Engaged Wellness also offers companies, sports teams, gyms and others body composition analysis programs. But with so many employees working at home during the pandemic, the corporate business has ground to a halt.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has raised prospects of selling chairs to those who are now suddenly working from home, and realizing they aren’t necessarily set up to work remotely or comfortably.
“With the experience we gained visiting companies and having thousands of people sitting in our chairs, we know that there’s a market for wellness at home, which prompted the pivot to a retail store,” says Dave Laidman, whose email signature includes the tagline “No matter how things are going at home or in the office, it’s nice to be kneaded.” His background includes sales and marketing at a company that sold fancy ski poles and sales at an early networking company called Shiva that I used to write about back in my business technology reporting days.
Naturally, the massage chair business is one that wants to get you in to try their chairs, the only way you can really judge them. They have chairs that customize massages based on a scan of your body and that feature rollers that “feel like the hands of professional massage therapists,” according to one of their pitches.
Why Wellesley? The Laidmans had a test site in Natick where people could try out the chairs. “We quickly learned that we needed to be visible and near other retailers, which prompted the move to Wellesley,” Dave says. “We live in Dover so we drive by the Belclare regularly and on a whim we asked what the possibilities were and voila, we’ll soon be there.”
Sunset Sale on Thursday