The Little City That Could

Preface:
I sent this one in to the MN Acupuncture Association’s publication. So the target audience isn’t exactly CAN members but just acupuncturists in general. 
I’ve only lived in Minnesota for a year, so please allow me to make some gross generalizations. There’s two acupuncture schools in the cities of (Minneapolis and St. Paul) and it seems like that’s where all the acupuncturists congregate. 
I think there’s a definite NEED in other smaller cities and towns for affordable healthcare. And honestly I am definitely LOVING the quality of life in Winona. I just wanted to appeal to some acupuncturists to get out from the cities and enjoy life and provide some affordable healthcare to the other areas. 
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The Little City That Could

I know that there are many
debates surrounding Community Acupuncture whether it’s a viable social
business model or the fast food version of acupuncture that undercuts
most of the rest of the acupuncture community.  I am not going to
address those issues today.  I want to look at it from a business
perspective.  

In May of 2009, I moved to Winona,
Minnesota.  Now, having never lived in a city that size I was quite
nervous.  Could a town of 27,000 sustain a viable acupuncture practice?
I have watched many acupuncturists struggle to build up moderately
successful practices over much blood, sweat, and tears and the span of
4-5 years in much larger places.  But the timing couldn’t have been
better. I was in the middle of a economic crisis.  A town of 27,000?
What was I getting myself into?  Have they heard of acupuncture there?
Would anyone even want to try acupuncture?  Could I build a practice
pay myself a living wage in a town that size?

Now, some of
you may not care.  You could be a urban person that is wildly in
love with the culture and life in cities.  But I have to say, having
never lived in a town this size before, I am really enjoying it.  There
is a lot to be said for the quality of life in smaller towns.  I love
the cost of living and my 8 minute commute.  I love living in a
beautiful river valley and knowing a lot of people in the community by
name. 

Would an acupuncture practice survive or thrive
here?  There are no other acupuncturists here in Winona.  Lucky, for me
right? Another acupuncturist had come and left around 5 years ago,
because he could not make it here.  There was another acupuncturist in
the neighboring city of La Crosse with the population of 51,000, who had
left, because they couldn’t make it either.  No exactly a great track
record for the city of Winona. There are currently a couple of
chiropractors that practice acupuncture. 

In mid-July, I
opened up my small Community Acupuncture practice of 7 chairs in a 500
square feet space.  Within two months, I had paid off my initial
investment (chairs are less expensive than massage tables).  I currently
have a practice that sees between 90 to 140 patients a week.  The
patients are very diverse ranging from retired farmers, store owners,
retirees, etc.  I am really in love with Community Acupuncture in many
ways.
But I am deeply thankful to Lisa and Skip for a business model that
enables people in smaller cities to access acupuncture.  I am thankful
for a business model that enables me to enjoy life in a beautiful small
city in the river valley.

Jade Fang
Author: Jade Fang

Opened Jade Community Acupuncture in July of 2009. Loving the CA experience. Love being a part of the community. It's my first time being in business by myself, so writing about the roller coaster ride it is being a first time businesswoman. Have some marketing experience, love to help people with their marketing. Really appreciate the community of support with CAN! Everyone's helped me so much!

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Responses

  1. I was just wondering a couple days ago…

    …wondering how Jade was doing. So happy to see you’re thriving! You’re amazing. Sometimes a small town is the best place to be. Everybody knows everybody, so word of mouth spreads quickly. I’ll miss my small town practice when I complete my move.

    Pauline

  2. Great Post!

    And good to hear you’re still doing so well.  I know awhile back you were feeling swamped with 140 (I would, too, doing that on my own!) but that’s quite an amazing success – can’t wait to hear how your clinic continues to grow and prosper!

  3. Yeah 🙂 If you know anyone send them over!

    Thanks 🙂 I’ve just been really lucky that this community has been soooo supportive. I just got another article in the local paper. 

    I am still by myself. 

    Both Eileen (in La Crosse 30 min away) and I are looking for someone, so the acupunk could probably have all the CA hours they’d want. 

    🙂

    Jade Community Acupuncture, Winona, MN

    acupuncturewinona.com

  4. Thanks Justine 🙂

    I am getting used to 140 now. Getting some new routines in place.

     

    I think with just 500 ft and one acupunk I am pretty happy with where I am. I don’t know if I’ll grow much more because I am already working all the hours I can, so hopefully someone will come along 🙂

    Jade Community Acupuncture, Winona, MN

    acupuncturewinona.com

  5. yay for small towns!

    There is a lot to be said about how great it is being a small town. I hope more CA start in some of the smaller towns in MN and WI. I think there’s a definitely a need around here! 

    Jade Community Acupuncture, Winona, MN

    acupuncturewinona.com

  6. Photos of your clinic?

    Jade,

    Are there photos of your clinic available online anywhere?  I’m getting ready to open my clinic soon, and I was thinking that I’d need around 900 sq. ft., but seeing that you’re doing so well with only 500 sq. ft. is making me wonder if I should look for a smaller space.  I’d love to see how your clinic is organized to give me an idea of how big of a space I’ll need.

    Thanks! 

    Carrie

  7. My clinic is kind of tight…

    I don’t really have any photos, because it’s hard to get everything when you’re in such a small space. It’s like taking photos of bedroom. 

    I have a tiny waiting room with 4 chairs and a desk with my laptop. Then in the main room I have 6 la fuma chairs lined up side by side. I have tiny closet/room with one la fuma chair and a table. 

    I’ve seen a lot of clinics around MN (5) and mine is definitely the tinest one. But it cuts costs down. And the patients don’t seem to mind too much. I can’t sit on a roller stool and acupuncture everyone though. 

    Hopefully that helps. 

    -Jade

    Jade Community Acupuncture, Winona, MN

    acupuncturewinona.com

  8. how does she do it?

    Jade, if you could choose your ideal clinic size for the practice you have going, how many square feet would that be? Waaay bigger or just a little extra room?

  9. It depends…

    If I was in a urban area and it was easy to partner up with more acupunks or hire some, I’d definitely go for a bigger space. And bigger means at least enough space for 12 chairs, so two people can work together at the same time.

    But being I am in a tiny town and it’s hard to find acupunks that’ll move to work with me, this space is Perfect just for one person. The costs are low, so when it’s slower in the winter I am not panicking (um… well I actually am panicking, but I shouldn’t be, because it’s not a matter of paying the bills 😉

    -Jade

    Jade Community Acupuncture, Winona, MN

    acupuncturewinona.com

  10. you go jade!

    what’s funny/pathetic is that the acu-industrial complex wants acupuncture to be a profession and have standing with the labor dept, but we CANners have the damnest time actually hiring people when we are drowning in work.  

     

    “Educated criminals work within the law.”- Morrissey

     

  11. Go North!

    Nice post Jade. Glad to hear you are doing well in Winona & enjoying the community.

    Just putting the word if anyone is considering going a little more north of the Twin Cities to set up a CA clinic…..consider Duluth, MN. It’s a sizeable town of 80K or more with many small towns in the surrounding area. They host a great deal of events in town year round, have a good college student population and a ton of hard working iron range folks. You will need to like the snow, but if you do….you might just find your slice of heaven.

  12. Yeah there’s a need in Duluth

    Duluth is an absolutely beautiful place. I know there’s definitely a need there. 

    There’s tons of incredibly beautiful places in MN that need some CA clinics. Where’s all the acupunks?!

    -Jade

    Jade Community Acupuncture, Winona, MN

    acupuncturewinona.com

  13. Thanks for posting, Jade!

    Thanks so much for posting this. I’m moving my clinic to a small town in early November and I was really biting my nails wondering if this was a good idea or not. But, as I read this blog and start to talk with other business owners and residents of the town, I’m more excited than ever! So, thanks, for sharing.  I needed this!