Declaring she will not quit, co-owner grows Willow Massage + Spa through trials

Tracey Groy, Willow Massage   Spa
Willow Massage Spa co-owner Tracey Groy moved to Arizona from Iowa at age 19, and while she never moved back, she credits her Iowa upbringing with some of the traits that have made her successful in business. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Willow Massage Spa co-owner Tracey Groy moved to Arizona from Iowa at age 19, and while she never moved back, she credits her Iowa upbringing with some of the traits that have made her successful in business. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Image description
The spa room has added services and is about 10% of the business, Groy said. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
Tracey Groy has spent most of her work life as a certified public accountant, but the stress of that job was not good for her with a family history of heart disease.

For a few years, she tried to wind down her CPA career as she got into a franchise of gift basket-making. But it was not working out that way, Groy said.

“I guess God intended me to be an accountant because I could not let go,” she said. “My clients, I’m loyal. I love long-term relationships.”

But one of those relationships took her in a third direction still intact today: massage.

One of Groy’s clients had been a massage therapist who was doing social marketing for her boss. In conversation, Groy found how unhappy she was with her job and Groy shared how she was not successfully winding down her CPA career for her own health.


“She says, ‘Yeah. I was thinking about maybe opening a little massage practice,’” Groy recalls. “And then the wheels started turning. And I said, ‘I have the business sense. You have the industry experience.’”

The two decided to go for it, building on relationships and community. The former partner brought in therapists and front-office people. Groy brought some capital and two other partners. Willow Massage + Spa was off the ground in August 2014, albeit with no clients.

There have been bumps. The partner’s health issues forced her to step aside less than a year in, leaving Groy and the team to find their way.

“It’s like, ‘OK, now what do I do?’” Groy said. “I’m not a quitter.”

Groy said she also had to make a quick decision on expansion—before the business was really ready—when the suite next door opened up. She plunged ahead with her partners’ support.

Finally, COVID-19 precautions shuttered the business for 10 weeks in 2020. But Groy said between building a strong team she trusts and earning respect from clients, the business came out stronger with more members.

“I think that people finally realized, ‘I’m tired of sitting at home. ... I need to take care of myself,’” she said. “Life is short. You never know.”

What's in a name?

Tracey Groy said she really had no idea for a name when the business started out. Then one day she got a call from therapist Stephanie Sutton suggesting Willow. Groy asked what the significance was.

“‘Well, the willow tree is actually stronger than the Oak. The willow bends but doesn’t break.’ Great. We need that.”

—Tracey Groy, co-owner

Willow Massage + Spa

1614 N. Higley Road, Ste. 104, Gilbert

480-696-3132

www.willowmassageaz.com

Hours: Mon. 2-8 p.m., Tue.-Fri. 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-7 p.m., closed Sun.
By Tom Blodgett

Editor, Gilbert

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.



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