ADDRESS: 340 SW Second Street #4, Corvallis, OR 97333
PHONE NUMBER: 541-753-8171
OWNER: Leon Dunham, LMT (3961)
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 20
WHAT HE SELLS: Massage therapy; deep tissue for injuries, relaxation for stress relief, Bamboo Fusion, on-site massage, Reiki. Gift certificates are online.
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: Leon uses his experience to customize sessions to match his clients’ needs in a professional but uniquely warm and calming environment. As he often tells his clients, “This time and space is just for you.”
Tucked away in an upstairs corner of downtown Corvallis, across the street from The Old World Deli and above Corvallis Cyclery, is a massage therapist who offers his clients a quiet, welcoming environment—a space outside of daily life to relax and to release specific muscles that may be causing discomfort.
Leon, when and why did you decide to start your business? I became interested in massage therapy after taking time off from a hotel management career for some personal growth. I needed a job that would give me enough time to study my passions, and one of my friends suggested massage. I received my first professional massage from her and was totally blown away. Everything fell quickly into place and soon I was studying at East West College of the Healing Arts in Portland. After extensive training there, I passed the state boards and was licensed in 1992.
What are your specialties? I really enjoy working with someone who is new to massage, whether they are exploring massage as part of a lifestyle change or working on specific body issues. I use techniques gathered from many different types of massage. I guess my most popular request is deep tissue massage, but that is a rather generic term, more relating to the intent of the session, working with a specific injury, than the techniques used to address that injury.
I also really believe in general relaxation or stress relief massage. Most of us could use a lot more of that in our lives. I use a special massage chair to do on-site massage for companies or events. One of the unique kinds of massage I offer is called Bamboo Fusion, which uses solid heated bamboo sticks as part of the massage, much like hot stone massage. I also offer Reiki, which is a form of energy work rather than massage, but is used for similar intent, relaxation and healing. Two afternoons a week I offer massage at OSU through Student Health Services at Dixon. We actually have four massage therapists there. Students and faculty/staff can make appointments through SHS.
What do you enjoy most about your work? Helping people move out of their physical pain has got to top that list. Massage can have such a dramatic effect in so many cases. Beyond that, though, I love being a resource for people who are just beginning to explore their lives as being more than school, work, or kids.
What is the most important element of your business? One of the most important aspects of bodywork is the interpersonal communication between therapist and client. Understanding what clients want and need to get out of their sessions is critical for a massage therapist. For many people, the things that can “go wrong” with our bodies are entirely mysterious. And much of what we experience is on a chronic level below that which requires medical intervention, but still can interfere with our daily lives. Massage can address a wide range of those issues, and the therapist can pass a lot of information on to the client.
What challenges have you faced as an independent local business owner? The hard business aspects are most challenging for me. I think this is typical of massage therapists in general; we got into this business to do healing work one-on-one with our clients, not to do cost benefit analysis or to create great marketing promotions. On the other hand, all those things a big business does with staff and departments a solopreneur does as well, just by himself, to scale.
What is the impact of local independent businesses in Corvallis—and what does the future look like for local independents? Independent businesses really get to shape the community. Rather than following corporate guidelines, they get to create a style all their own. I’ve almost always had my office in downtown Corvallis (I started my practice in Portland) and loved each space in its own way. I learned more about massage, business and myself from every space. In each location, I brought my own personality to the office through the interior decorating. Last year I moved into my space at 2nd and Adams and took the opportunity to really create my ideal massage office. I designed it; a local independent contractor, Pat Faretto, built it; Corvallis Floor Covering did the carpeting; and my partner, Mary, and I did all the finish staining and painting. I doubt there is any other place like it. That is what the independents can do—not follow the pack, but say, “Hey, this is the way I want it.” And the whole community benefits. Corvallis has a great downtown and a lot of that has to do with those independents. Future? Wide open!
(Interview and article by Ciana Ginochio – April 21, 2013)
The Local Business of the Week program is designed to help the Corvallis community identify our locally owned independent businesses by featuring one business each week. The program is part of the Buy Local First campaign co-sponsored by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and the Community Independent Business Alliance (CIBA).