Groupon, Living Social & More

by Marissa Gandelman of Elm City Wellness

I am a firm believer that offering promotions through Groupon, Living Social or other online deal sites is not only bad for business it’s bad for our sustainability as a local, community-oriented wellness center which, in turn is bad for YOU.

Trust me, I LOVE a good deal. I used to buy Groupons and the like for my local grocers, yoga studios and even the occasional independent massage therapist (after researching them online and usually a phone call to inquire about their skills). But when I first inquired about offering one of these deals I was told that I had to discount my product or service by 50%. And these deal companies take 50% of that.

Um, what?

So if I discount our massages by 50% that means our $80 massage performed by either me or one of my highly skilled, heavily trained therapists is $40. But then the deal company takes $20, leaving Elm City Wellness with $20. And if Elm City Wellness splits that with the therapist so that I can pay our rent, utilities, etc., we each get $10. For giving a massage.

That, to me, is not fair. My therapists are worth more than that. Much, much more. Elm City Wellness is worth more than that, too. What gives us immeasurable happiness – what we LIVE FOR – is taking care of you. It’s in our hearts and souls, which is why we’re therapists. But if we devalue our work, we’re devaluing your loyalty and trust in us. And we’ll NEVER do that.

We’re building our business from personal relationships with you and the people you refer to us in our community. And people in our community talk – to each other, online and offline, to their customers, employers, colleagues, classmates, family and friends. And we treat everyone with equality and fairness. It’s a simple concept, but some businesses forget this in hopes of gaining greater exposure.

These deal companies do give businesses exposure, but that’s not always a good thing. I’ve heard of too many companies struggling with negative online reviews affecting their business because they couldn’t handle the influx of coupon redeemers – and their service suffered because of it. Elm City Wellness’s service, which really stands for how we take care of YOU, is all that matters. And, as the owner and operator and one of the therapists of this company, I refuse to risk endangering that.

We work just as hard for our new customers as we do for those of you who have been with us from the beginning. Elm City Wellness values your well being. And to do that, we have to value ours. Seriously. And if you’ve had a session with us, you know that. If you haven’t, we’d love to get you on the table.

And don’t worry. We still offer specials. Lots of them. But in a way that is fair to my therapists and fair to our business. If you’d like to get on our mailing list, please email us at and type “Add to Mailing List” in the subject line. We’ll keep you posted on our in-house deals!

Read more about how bad these deals are for business:

“More Evidence Groupon Is Bad for Business” (The Atlantic Wire)
“Groupon in Retrospect” (