Pierre Richard was an established businessman at AutoBahnd North in Danvers when he opened his first Elements store in Beverly - briefly in 2007 and then reopening in 2009, eventually becoming the top store in the nationwide chain by 2010.
Richard’s expansion later brought new locations in Acton, Marlborough and an upcoming location in Salem, N.H.
“In Beverly, people were used to going to Boston and paying $150 for massages on Newbury Street, so when they saw they could get the same thing here in town for $59, they thought ‘wow, this is the place to be.’,” he said.
He was well versed about the business aspect of therapeutic message from seeing his mother make a living in the profession and had established himself in the world of car sales with Autobahnd North in Danvers, but wasn’t sure he could find a way to combine the two aspects of his life until he discovered Elements just before the beginning of the Great Recession.
“I saw my mother struggle. I really wanted to be a part of this industry, but I didn’t want to struggle,” said Richard. “I think what got me is the fact that this isn’t a company run by suits, they really know what they’re doing.”
His latest expansion takes him to Westford and a new shopping plaza there - Cornerstone Square.
The road to Westford was long and winding for Richard, but after years of looking at a location in the area to set up shop, the North Shore entrepreneur set down roots this fall at Cornerstone Square with his fourth Elements message franchise.
Richard saw early success in Beverly, but began to hit the wall after opening his new locations in quick succession within a few months of each other.
“We had really taken on too much I think,” he said. “At one point, I realized my style couldn’t be sustained, I couldn’t be so hands on. I couldn’t teach my success, it was something that couldn’t be duplicated. But while you can’t teach someone to be you, you can teach to a path.”
He eventually recovered, and once again was looking at Westford for a possible site for expansion. Initially, Richard says he was going to set up shop at the current location of Payless Shoes at Westford Valley Marketplace 2 before lease negotiations stalled in July 2010.
That process, along with strict local bylaws for massage establishments, left him frustrated.
Richard wasn’t sure whether Westford would work out, but driving down Littleton Road, Richard saw the sign for leasing opportunities at Cornerstone Square and the name of Robert Walker.
While looking at Westford, Richard had talked to Walker about potentially setting up shop near the Meat House and Zoots in Chelmsford, which also had fallen through. When it came to Cornerstone though, Richard knew he found his location and he believes that location was going to fundamentally change the shopping habits of people in Westford toward more localized shopping.
“I told Robert that the location in Chelmsford was nice but not what I was looking for, I needed high end anchor stores and nice atmosphere,” said Richard. “I know if I lived in Westford, these are all the stores I’d like to go to. I get the fact that this is a very reserved community that likes its peace and quiet, but if you look at the pick of the stores that are going in here, it’s not like it’s Las Vegas.”
With his doors now open, Richard hopes to continue the success he discovered in Beverly and rediscovered in Acton and Marlborough by combining a on-demand and expansive approach with prices lower than his competitors
More information on Richard’s Westford location can be found at the store’s website.