David Tortorelli has owned Dermage Spa for just over eight years but recent changes on the business landscape in Wilton forced him to move the business to a new location. Tortorelli hopes not only that existing customers follow him, but he also wishes that it were easier for new clients to find him in the new spot, adding, "Wilton is a great place to run a business in, but [sometimes] it's tough to do business here."
Dermage reopened just this month in its new location at 475 Danbury Road. Tortorelli moved the spa there from its original location at the Crossways Shopping Center at the intersection of Rt. 7 and Ridgefield Rd.
Last year, the owners of Crossways decided to put the property up for sale after changes in the property's zoning allowed for redevelopment. That forced Tortorelli to look for new space, but it allowed him to find a better rental deal--a crucial advantage in the Wilton commercial market.
"When I signed my lease when we first opened nine years ago, it was basically the height of the market. When the market tanked, everything went berzerk. Some landlords are very inflexible, and still think they can get the dollar-per-sq.-ft. that they could have eight, nine, ten years ago. Other landlords are more realistic and are willing to help the business owners. If you are a business owner whose landlord is tough and rigid, it's tough to do business in Wilton," he said.
Another obstacle that business have to overcome here are rules about signage, set by planning and zoning. Tortorelli said it's a big issue in Wilton as a potential make-or-break factor, especially given how spread out many businesses are along the Rt. 7 corridor. It was a concern, given the move.
"Wilton is a little stricter than I would like them to be with signage. My sign can't be higher than seven-and-a-half feet, and can be no more than 12 sq. ft. total; it had to be set so far back from the road. I could only have up-lighting, and I couldn't have an illuminated sign or lights shining down on it. I think rules are important, but some of them are just antiquated. And it would help the business owner in Wilton. Rt. 7 is a tremendous thoroughfare--so many people from other towns travel Rt. 7, and Wilton's economy could really be bolstered if there was a better way to alert these travelers as to these businesses and what they offer, and signage is key to that," he explained.
Dermage's new location offers new, improved features
Tortorelli is excited about the new improvements he's made with the change in location.
"It's much larger, everything is larger, from the size of the treatment rooms, to the facility itself. It really is more of a retreat setting, it's more of a destination spa. It's bucolic and gorgeous. We also have a dedicated relaxation room, and now we have a women's locker room and multiple showers, including a steam shower. These are amenities that we did not have before."
The new spot sits on a much larger property with additional buildings. Tortorelli has ideas for expanded offerings. "I hope to do outside yoga classes in the summer, on that beautiful sloping lawn. There's a lot of potential. There are two barns that came with the property, and I will eventually use them for other amenities, but that's a couple years down the road."
The relocation has been a mixed blessing for Tortorelli in other ways. "Crossways was a great spot originally when we started out, but we found out the building's flaws quickly--it was very noisy, much more than where we are now. It's still close, it's only 1.6 miles down the road--it's not like we moved to another town."
First class services, as good or better than found elsewhere
Regardless of the issues facing business owners in Wilton, a business won't succeed if the customers don't come. Tortorelli wanted to remind customers that the services offered at Dermage are comparable, if not better than can be found outside of Wilton, and he hopes that clients will continue to support his local business.
"The services we offer are the finest in the area. They can go to Stamford, Westport or any of the surrounding towns, but we certainly rival the highest-end spas in Fairfield County, as far as our service providers and what we can provide. So many people just don't know about us, believe it or not. I just want people to know that they can get anything they can get in any other town," he said.
Despite missing the Valentine's holiday because of the move, Tortorelli added that they're ready to go for Mother's Day and graduation for anyone who wants to purchase gift certificates or make appointments. "Our services are 100-percent operational now."