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New Bay City business sells heat therapy beds, with an interesting sales twist

Sunday, January 18, 2004

By Rob Clark
Times Business Editor

It only took Sally I. VanSickle three days to go head over heels for an electronic massage bed that aims to reduce stress while increasing circulation.

The Bay City woman was so impressed by the product, and is so sure others will feel the same way she does, that she opened her own demonstration center/retail store in downtown Bay City.

From the outside, Migun Body Sense, 712 Washington Ave., may look like a run-of-the-mill massage parlor.

But inside, customers are invited to test out the Migun Thermal Massage Bed System with the idea that they'll like the results so much they'll be willing to shell out $2,700 to own one for themselves.

"You use it and fall in love with it," said VanSickle, who discovered the bed while visiting a relative in Las Vegas. "It's like buying a puppy dog - you'll love it so much, you'll want to take it home."

That's exactly what happened to Bob and Sue Girard of Bay City, who tried out the massage bed last week.

"I've never actually been on a bed like this before. It's a real massage compared to other beds that just vibrate," said Bob Girard, who owns Girard Builders in Bay City.

"As a builder, I have a lot of aches and pains. I have a real problem with my neck, and after one massage I felt really good afterwards and the next day."

Girard said he and his wife plan to give the bed a few more test runs before buying one for themselves.

"If you're hurting, it's worth it," he said.

VanSickle understands that for the price, it may take other folks a little more time to be convinced. So, she offers 30 demonstrations - each lasting about 40 minutes - for free.

After that, if customers want to continue using the product, but are not ready to buy, she offers a $10 monthly membership for unlimited use.

"There is no obligation, no catch, except to tell others about us," said VanSickle.

Migun is a Korean word meaning "beauty and health." It is also the name of the company - founded in Daejon, South Korea, in 1988 - that manufactures a variety of thermal massage products.

Migun has about 400 demonstration centers around the world, including about 60 in the United States. The Bay City center is the company's only location between New York and Chicago.

After returning home from Las Vegas, VanSickle said she contacted the company's North American headquarters in Los Angeles raving about the product and asking how she could buy one.

With expansion in mind, company representatives asked VanSickle if she'd be interested in running her own store. VanSickle said she thought nothing of it until the company flew her and her husband, Clinton C. VanSickle, to California to attend a ceremony to celebrate the Federal Drug Administration's approval of the massage bed.

"We were really impressed with everyone and went home saying, 'Wow, this is really something new and exciting,"' said Sally VanSickle.

The Migun Thermal Massage Bed System combines the five principles of traditional Eastern medical wisdom - acupressure, acupuncture, heat therapy, far infrared rays and chiropractic - with Western technology.

The bed itself measures 6.5 feet in length and weighs about 150 pounds. It is equipped with two internal sets of jade massage heads that cover heat-producing helium light bulbs.

One set of internal heads mechanically moves up and down the body, massaging the tailbone, lower back, neck and head.

The second set massages the legs and calves.

The bed also comes with two external sets of jade massage heads that are controlled by the user.

VanSickle said the entire system targets pressure points believed to be connected to various organs in the body. Heat produced by the helium bulbs penetrates muscles, nerves and tissue and encourages improved blood circulation.

VanSickle said other benefits include reduced blood pressure, improved body alignment and overall relaxation.

"Nothing can replace a hands-on massage, but the benefits of a Migun thermal massage are similar," VanSickle said.

Before opening the Bay City demonstration center, VanSickle visited two other locations.

"People were waiting in line to get in," she said. "Once the word gets out here, we expect similar results."

The Bay City demonstration center has eight massage beds for customers to use.

"I think we'll see a lot more smiles in downtown Bay City because people will be more relaxed and feeling better," VanSickle said.

- Rob Clark is business editor for The Times. He can be reached at 894-9642.

© 2004 Bay City Times. Used with permission

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