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“Alexa, play spa music,” Susan Bishop told her smart speaker recently. Bishop, a registered massage therapist and owner of Swampscott Massage Spa, LLC, took a busy hour out of his morning and chatted with the Swampscott Reporter about his business situation since it reopened in Phase 2 last June.

We were masked and seated six feet apart; a long massage table separated us in a room painted in a soothing periwinkle blue. Soft lights twinkled and artwork with relaxing, positive imagery adorned the wall space. There was a hushed, almost praying sense of peace in space.

Bishop spoke with a mixture of pride and angst and a note of hope as she recounted the upheaval that began on March 11 with Gov. Charlie Baker’s order to shut down all non-essential businesses during the pandemic.

“We’ve been doing pretty well” since the reopening on June 22, said the 47-year-old Swampscott resident of her company, which employs three LMTs including herself, two beauticians and a Botox nurse in the comfortable 1,000-foot salon. nested squares. on Columbia Street behind Swampscott Suburban Station.

“Since the opening,” she said, “we are safe, clean and healthy, God willing.

She has reflected on the years of hard work she has put into cultivating and growing her business and worries that it will all be swept away by the coronavirus.

“I remember that on St. Patrick’s Day I wrote the letter saying I had to shut down,” she said. “July 5 marks eight years since I opened my doors. It was a little rough diamond. Before that, I had always worked for someone else. I was very lucky to have this space.

She attributed much of the success of the reopening to the support she received from Swampscott’s Director of Community and Economic Development, Marzie Galazka, who established a Business Advisory Committee to support small businesses.

“We were ready in advance,” she said with appreciation.

The other lifeline that kept the business afloat when it went into a coma was selling products from the website.

“We sold CBD balm which is good for pain and CBD oil which is calming and effective in treating anxiety,” she said. “But what really saved us was a lot of customers buying gift cards and maintenance plans. “

Now that the business is open again, it is solidly booked with loyal customers using their gift cards and maintenance plans.

The reopening was not without problems, she said, shaking her head.

“It is still difficult to obtain PPE (personal protective equipment). There have been a lot of price increases, ”she said. “Small latex rubber gloves went from $ 9 to $ 29 overnight.”

Bishop estimated that she was spending around a few hundred extra dollars a month on PPE, an unexpected but necessary expense.

In addition to following protocols and guidelines established by the city and the Department of Public Health and using PPE, there are additional steps that should be taken with clients.

“I have to take everyone’s temperature and have clients sign a liability waiver and fill out a health and wellness form,” Bishop said.

After a massage or skin treatment, the whole room should be wiped down with disinfectant, she continued.

“Everything the customer has touched – the doorknobs, the chairs – and the linens needs to be changed of course,” she said. “We finish it off with Lysol scented with lemon, the new aromatherapy nowadays.”

She said it can be “mentally exhausting” at times to remember all the steps, but it’s a process that she and her staff take very seriously.

Bishop is well aware of the hard work and tireless drive it takes to grow and maintain a small business. She described growing up in a close-knit family where she was “the baby of eight siblings”.

In December, Bishop moved in to help care for his 86-year-old mother who lives with dementia. It was only recently that she allowed her elderly father to go out to the market basket to shop.

In addition to owning and managing the Swampscott Massage Spa, Bishop is an active member of the Rotary Club, of which she has been a member for 14 years, as president and is a three-time recipient of the Paul Harris Award, named in honor of the founder of the Rotary club. Bishop is also on the fledgling Swampscott Anchor Food Pantry.

And if that wasn’t enough, Bishop somehow finds time to do some community service. For the past 15 years, Bishop has participated in cancer fundraisers, primarily the Avon Breast Cancer Walk.

“But since they quit, I have been fundraising for the North Shore March Against Cancer for the past five years. My family, friends and I have raised up to $ 30,000 in some years, ”she said. “Our current team is #ronstRONg, in memory of my brother-in-law who passed away on January 19, 2019.”

As the hour draws to a close, Bishop reflected on the impact of the pandemic on society.

“We are not meant to be anti-social. We did not have the opportunity to say goodbye on March 16, ”she said. “I am so thankful that I can continue to do my job and provide this healthy touch therapy to my clients. I also take advantage of it. God has given us time to help us reassess what is important.

Swampscott Massage Spa, LLC is located at 17 Columbia St. For more information, visit

A view of the estheticians' room at the Swampscott Massage Spa owned by Susan Bishop on Monday August 10, 2020.
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