From the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Expert Advice,” by Gurukirn S. Khalsa, in the February 2010 issue. Article summary: You have spent time, hard work and money becoming a massage therapist. Still, your income isn’t what you want it to be. But what if you continued to make money even after the massage session ended? How? you might ask. The answer is simple: retail.

Charles Revson, the prolific founder of cosmetics giant Revlon, once said, “In the factory we make cosmetics; in the drugstore we sell hope.” This one statement encapsulates all there is to know about marketing: You are not ever just selling a product, you are selling all of the intangibles that the product will do for the buyer.

So what does this have to do with massage therapy, you ask? Here’s an easy answer: You, as a professional massage therapist, don’t just sell massage; you sell wellness.

Why not create wellness lifestyle offerings? With a little planning, some background research and a manageable budget, you can design a retail program that will boost your bottom line and provide meaningful benefit to your clients.

Supplements represent a perfect add-on sale to any massage modality—and if the line is basic, food-based and designed for professional use, it is easy for you to learn and explain.

Supplements are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but the supplements industry is regulated by both the FDA and FTC. That being said, you should check with your local and state boards of massage to ensure sales of supplements and other wellness offerings are within your legal scope of practice.

Your professional recommendation may be all a client needs to become interested in supplements. As you listen closely to your clients’ health issues and concerns, you can make product suggestions based on these conversations. You provide trusted advice and convenience for your clients and create a recurring visit and sale as they come back for their next monthly supply.

Selling retail products will require you to learn about and charge sales tax, but the time spent will be well worth it. You will also need to create an attractive display, which may be as inexpensive as using a few small tables with the merchandise offerings creatively displayed. Ordering and paying for products takes time and money, but offering retail items, such as supplements, is a winning proposition for you and your clients.

Michelle W. Sullivan is president and founder of SullivanSites LLC dba/Agebest Basics (