As small businesses in northeastern Wisconsin gear up for Small Business Saturday this week, Lisa Marie Oslund, owner of Joyful Escape Day Spa in Green Bay, says customers are doing more than supporting businesses when they shop. They are supporting dreams. "I think that small businesses are a kind of dream come true for a person," Oslund said. "If we can allow more dreams to come true, think of the benefits to a community. These businesses are supporting the community and providing opportunities for employment."
Founded in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday was started in an effort to boost spending at small businesses during the holiday season. In the local area, many stores participate by offering specials that are listed in the Shop Small Business Passport, a compilation of discounts and specials. An insert will be placed in the Thanksgiving edition of the Green Bay Press-Gazette or can be found on Facebook @SBSNortheast. WI.
The event is especially important to small retailers who face increasing competition from online shopping. To combat that, Oslund, whose business opened this year, says she selected a product line that is not only top qual-ity, but is also one that isn’t discounted online.
"An added benefit to shopping here is that you are able to smell and feel the products and see how they work,"
Oslund said. "There is instant gratification, and customers will find that I run more specials than the vendors would. There is also the issue that when you order something online, it might sound wonderful, but when you get it, you might find you don’t like it and it isn’t right for you."
Oslund also benefits because her business model is all about service, and even if products can be purchased online, a massage or other one of her services must be experienced in person. And with 17 years of experience in the industry, she is taking everything she learned to make her business the best it can be.
"What I was seeing is that customer service wasn’t what it should be. People weren’t being greeted and customer service wasn’t what it should be. I thought I could add that extra TLC, and do those little things that make people feel special — things like taking a coat or serving a cup of tea," Oslund said.
She took classes locally at EHub to learn business basics, and crafted a business that would specialize in body treatments, facial care and nail services; doing so with products that are organic and healthy.
"We are a relaxation day spa, so we are a place for you to get away, but we also work with people who have foot and nail care problems," Oslund said. "If you are embarrassed by your feet, this is the place to come."
She is in the process of obtaining a medication nail tech license to go along with her numerous other certifications. And, although she is currently doing it all herself, she plans to add employees as the business grows.
Her goal to provide a haven in the midst of a stress-filled life.
"For women, our role is changing and we live in an extremely hectic environment," Oslund said. "We are going, going, going all of the time. When you walk through the door here, I want you to feel automatically relaxed."
To accomplish that, she paid close attention to design. From the first time she stepped into the space in the Military Avenue Business District, she said it had the right feeling. With help from friends and her mom, the space was completely renovated into a peaceful, tropical oasis.
While that part of the business fell into place seam-lessly, a greater challenge was the tech side of things. Oslund said she had to learn how to build a website and be effective on social media. In addition to taking classes, she has spent hours doing online research and watching videos. Her marketing plan includes a variety of promotions.
For Saturday’s event, she will feature a gift certificate special that will be promoted in the insert and on her Facebook page. She is excited to be part of the Military Avenue Business Association and says she looks forward to giving back to the community.
"I want to grow this business and be a pillar of the community, giving of my time and money," she said. "I have a love for people and a real passion for what I do. I have that vision to never quit and keep pushing forward."
Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt is co-owner of DB Commercial Real Estate in Green Bay and past district director for SCORE, Wisconsin.