Happy Feet, Happy Clients

Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that the feet are closely related to the internal organs and can reflect pathological changes in the body
Ahhh. Customers at Happy Feet in Sag Harbor surrendered their feet for hour-long reflexology sessions on Tuesday. Carrie Ann Salvi

   “You relax, we do the work,” is the motto of Happy Feet, a new reflexology and facial spa in Sag Harbor. On Division Street, just steps from one of the village’s busiest intersections, it is easy to miss the small storefront, but harder to miss the promises of Happy Feet’s advertisements, at least for the foot-weary.
    Christopher Rogers opened the business in December. “It was my wife’s dream to run her own business after working so many years for other people,” he said. Foot reflexology is pretty popular in China, where his wife, Li Kun Huang, was born. She does facials and reflexology with no machines, he said, “just the old-fashioned way of doing it.”
    Happy Feet’s other practitioners, all licensed aestheticians, are also from China, and they commute together daily from Flushing, Queens. Each has a unique style, Mr. Rogers said, “based on years and years of doing reflexology.”
    The owners make efficient use of each square foot of the cozy space, which is outfitted with five plush leather reclining reflexology chairs and three facial tables separated into private cabanas by draperies.
    Mr. Rogers said his wife designed the space, with touches that include small tables between the chairs, dim lighting, and a ceiling full of Chinese parasols. Her grandmother’s sweet Chinese tea recipe is poured into a pot beside each chair and served in a dainty cup and saucer prior to treatment.
    Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that the feet are closely related to the internal organs and can reflect pathological changes in the body. Clients are given postcards describing the points on the soles of the feet that correspond to various organs.
    After a foot soak in a wooden bucket filled with warm water and rose petals, a practitioner covers a client with a small fleece blanket and takes charge. The kneading, shaking, pumping, and even gentle slaps and punches alternate according to the area being worked, from the tips of the toes to the knee, with a few shakes of the legs and rubs of the arms and thighs added for increased relaxation.
    “It’s not all lovey dovey,” said Karen Furst of East Hampton, who was in a reflexology chair on Friday for the fifth time. “They hold pressure points until they release,” she explained. “You have to know how to relax and not resist.” She has a standing Friday appointment each week, to get her weekend off to a good start, she said. “It gives me a positive attitude.” With chronic shoulder problems, she noticed the practitioner homed in on the center ball of her foot, which relates to trapezius muscles, without her saying a word.
    A 60-minute foot reflexology session is offered for just $35. (A tip is also customary.) “People are happy to get such a nice service for a nice price,” Mr. Rogers said.
    Although reflexology is the mainstay of the business, a Plantogen balancing skin facial is also available, which is said to cleanse, nourish, and soothe the skin.
    The lotions are high quality, Mr. Rogers said. “My wife would not use anything that is cheap. . . . She likes the really good stuff. . . . She’s all about natural and health.”
    The couple live just minutes away. Mr. Rogers originally summered on the South Fork and spent the rest of the year in Chicago. His mother, who died recently, rented houses in Sag Harbor, Sagaponack, and Bridgehampton before settling here permanently. They keep Happy Feet open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and manage to keep their chairs full most of that time.
    “We’ve been very fortunate,” Mr. Rogers said. “The local community has embraced us. . . . It has worked out quite well so far.”