Recently we received a question about one of the core principles listed on our crowdfunding campaign: floating is for everyone. Nationally, floating averages $50-$100 per hour, and we’re going to stay on the low end of that even as we’re in one of the most expensive cost-of-living markets in the country, but as our reader rightly points out, $50 is too much when you’re struggling to survive. How can we say our service is for “everyone” when not everyone can scrape together fifty bucks? My answer touched on some of the reasons I (Sara) do what I do, and how I arrived at this point. I thought some of you might be interested in where I’m coming from.
The following exchange is lightly edited for clarity and to remove personal information.
I’m curious whether there will ever be any availability for people who are truly low-income to try floating? It sounds like something I could really like, and that could really help me, but even paying $50 for something that’s, frankly, not essential to my daily survival seems a little ridiculous. I don’t even regularly fill one of my prescription meds because, while it would make things better, I can live without it so I don’t often fill it. [life circumstances redacted.] Yeah, I’ve got stress. But oftentimes the people who are most stressed are also the ones who can’t afford any of the stuff that may reduce that stress.
Thank you for getting in touch. I appreciate what you’re saying, and I agree completely.
“Oftentimes the people who are most stressed are also the ones who can’t afford any of the stuff that may reduce that stress.”
One of the reasons I got excited about floating as a business owner is that I can make arrangements for people who are truly low-income.
Let me give you some background about me. I became a massage therapist because I needed my work to have some immediate meaning to people. As a small business owner, I feel the same way and I have some pretty strong ideals: I feel I’m part of the community, and that means something real to me. I support causes that are important to me, and keep my money in the community as much as possible.
However, as a massage therapist, while I would *love* to help everyone, each massage I do is literal wear and tear on my body… and after more than ten years doing it, without going into the gory details, I feel that wear and tear every day. I am expensive, and I don’t discount my rates. I would LOVE to do more massage-related outreach and more volunteer work, but I can’t work for free or even a discount: I literally cannot afford it. The best I could do as a massage therapist was advertise in local theatre programs – because I love small theatre, and advertising is a way to swing money their way and write the expense off on my taxes. Win-win… but that was the best I could do, and that was frustrating.
When I found floating, I was excited for it as a therapy – but immensely excited for the good I could do with it.
A float tank never gets tired, never gets overuse injuries, never gets burnout or needs a vacation. In fact, our expenses are mostly fixed, so anytime a tank is empty it is a waste. We will use our slow times to get people in who can’t afford it otherwise, either by barter, work exchange, or something else. We’re planning “pay what you can” events, where we clear the calendar and let whoever signs up pay what they can: a batch of homemade cookies, a painting, whatever. (Or more than usual – we’ll encourage our more affluent people to subsidize others). I love trading floats for blog posts and content for our website. We will always have towels to fold.
I don’t want to say too much about these things in writing yet, because there are IRS rules around bartering and we need to run everything by our lawyer and accountant… but I will figure something out.
Once we’re open, come talk to me face to face. 🙂
Thanks again for reaching out.
My offer applies to anyone reading this. If there’s a gap between the floating you need and the floating you can afford, please come talk to one of us.
Have you participated in our crowdfunding campaign yet? It’s right here: float.tilt.com.