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Making it in Big Sky: OZssage Therapeutic Spa

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By Brandon Walker EBS STAFF

BIG SKY – OZssage Therapeutic Spa hopped into the Big Sky business scene back in 2001. Today, owner Jacquie Rager and her team are still going strong, even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated restrictions.

OZssage has made some adjustments to their already extensive cleaning practices by replacing all linens, swapping out face cradles from massage tables and cleaning restrooms after every client, even eliminating an entire massage room and the steam room from their offerings to help limit occupancy and maintain the rigorous cleaning schedule. 

OZssage reopened for business on April 28 following a nearly six-week closure. The spa was progressive in their closing procedure, implementing a three-week phase out of services. They began by limiting their offerings to only returning clients, followed by a reduction in staff before ultimately closing up shop. 

Rager said that in 20 years of business she has never succumbed to a sickness that forced her absence from work, adding that the spa lends itself well to cleaning and sanitization practices. 

OZssage employee Courtney Blanksma carries out her daily work routine while donning a mask. PHOTO COURTESY OF JACQUIE RAGER

Explore Big Sky: How has your daily work routine been impacted by COVID-19?

Jacquie Rager: The spa has always been in compliance with OSHA rules [and] Montana state sanitation, so as far as having hospital-grade disinfectants, you know as far as wiping benches down, doing all that sort of stuff in between clients, I mean we’re pretty familiar with it and we do it…The biggest thing is that our private steam room is not in operation for clients at the moment.

EBS: Shoulder season fluctuations aside, how do you believe the virus will continue to affect your businesses?

J.R.: I’ve been in business for 20 years. I’ve built this business from one room to the spa that we have now and I have a really good return clientele and I’ve had great employees over the years…I’m still expecting, for this summer, that I will have more clients wanting to get in than I will have staff. 

EBS: How quickly do you run through cleaning supplies?

J.R.: I actually have plenty of wipes, I have plenty of cleaner, I have hand sanitation; I mean we have it all. Actually, I’ve been helping people get some, like ordering it for them.

EBS: What is the most challenging piece of equipment to clean within the spa?

J.R.: It would be the steam room, but we’ve taken that out of operation due to COVID-19. It will remain out of operation until we have a better understanding and government direction on it.

EBS: Are you receiving an influx of bookings as life slowly returns to normal? 

J.R.: Yes, it is slowly picking up and we’re hoping to release some preseason specials soon.

EBS: Have the stresses of the pandemic inspired a trend in a certain treatment option?

J.R.: In actually reflection of that, there’s some clients that have been coming in that normally don’t have time or their schedules don’t work with what we have open for availability, so we’re seeing more of those people regularly because there’s more flexibility in their time and our time.

EBS: What did you miss most about the spa during its closure?

J.R.: I did enjoy coming back and working with my clients, you know because I have a lot of weekly clients so there’s a relationship there with the clients. It’s more than just working with them so, [in] that regard, you know I’m seeing the girls again, so it’s been great. But I can’t say that I did not enjoy being told that I was not allowed to work for four weeks.

OZssage reopened for business April 28. The spa intensified their previously extensive cleaning practices and is asking all employees and patrons to wear masks. PHOTO COURTESY OF JACQUIE RAGER

EBS: What is your favorite part of every workday?

J.R.: Definitely doing the actual massage, like helping clients and…in the offseason I got to study more—stuff that I couldn’t get to during season—so definitely you know getting back into books and now getting back into the day where you can actually implement that and make a difference. 

EBS: What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?

J.R.: Look at the big picture, but it’s really about looking at the big picture so that you can expand and bend with what’s going on in your own life and what’s happening in your employees’ lives and client’s lives and business life. Be able to adapt. Not just pivot: adapt.

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