I have always wanted to open a Korean spa – IHAWT

I am on day 2 of a very-last-minute, ill-planned, inconveniencing-my-friends, spontaneous road trip. This morning, I am in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria having a cup of coffee and organizing my work bag.

I found therein some scribbled questions for my visit with the Small Business Center three months ago to explore this idea of opening a Korean spa in Wake County. What a bust. That was not the most productive meeting I have ever had, e.g. the business counselor gave me “advice” on how to use Google Maps to search for spas in the vicinity. #NotHelpful He did not appear to have prepared to meet with me or have much interest in my success nor did he contribute any new ideas. Scheduling the meeting though made me prepare to meet with him by drafting questions I would ask Korean spa owners.


photo from homestaykorea.com

(I tell you, the act of sitting here, with quiet time and coffee, intentionally thinking about my future is motivating and inspiring. I feel more like an agent of my life.)

Below are the questions I would ask spa owners. My next step in pulling this IHAWT string is to compile a list of Korean spas in the US and somewhat deliberately, and not at all obsessively, visit them and / or call them this year. Fun!

I tell you, it’s a great day to be alive and so inspiring to create the future.

Questions for US-based, Korean-spa owners:

  1. Did you start this business yourself or buy it?
  2. What are your annual expenses? Revenues? Would you mind sharing this information?
  3. What other Korean spas in the US do you know of?
  4. How did you decide to open / start this business? Based on what factors?
  5. Who patronizes your spa? Demographics. Koreans vs. non-Koreans, male vs. female. Where do they live?
  6. What is the business model? What percentage are drop-ins? Monthly fees? Overall fees per service and patronage.
  7. What services are provided? Which are most patronized? Sauna, steam, scrubbing.
  8. What permitting is required?
  9. If you started this business, how long was it before you were profitable?
  10. How did you fund your business? Where did you get funds and how much did you need?
  11. How did you open? How did you market your opening? What promotions did / do you provide?
  12. Do you offer a 찜질방 or overnight option? Why or why not?
  13. Do you have competition? Whom would you consider your competition?
  14. How did you choose your location?
  15. Did you build the building? Retrofit? How long did it take? How much money did it cost to get going?
  16. What does your staffing look like? How many people do you employ? In what roles? What do you pay?
  17. What are the demographics of Wake County? I.e. where do I want to locate? (check NC LIVE)
  18. What is the worst thing that has ever happened in your business?
  19. If I did this–opened a Korean spa–in what ways could I fail? What is the chief reason for failure or biggest obstacle?
  20. How long have you been open? How much do you work now? I.e. do you feel like you can leave, take a holiday?

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