Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Stores Selling Back Gadgets Benefit from Industry Growth

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Stores Selling Back Gadgets Benefit from Industry Growth

Article excerpt

SPRINGFIELD, Va. -- Joy Zucker has a special chair in her office, a special bed in her house, and something called a "Back Buddy" in her car.

All these gizmos are designed to help her aching back, and all came from a growing group of specialty back stores.

About 150 such stores nationwide sell adjustable beds, high-tech pillows, pump-action chair pads, electric massagers, footrests and a host of other back-friendly products. "For me, it's the difference between getting through the day without a migraine headache or not," said Zucker, a television producer, as she demonstrated the $110 molded-foam seat back that gives extra support to her lower back and neck. "Five minutes in someone else's chair and I feel the stress" that often leads to a debilitating migraine, she said. The sedentary lifestyle of most office workers and the graying of the baby boomers are driving the growth of back-friendly products, said Skip Schatz, co-owner with wife JoAnne of a chain of Washington- area stores called JoAnne's Bed & Back Shops. "So many people have bad backs, and they're looking for products that can help them live their lives and do their jobs," Schatz said. Eight of ten people experience debilitating back pain at some point in their lives, said Scott Donkin, a Lincoln, Neb., chiropractor, author and consultant on ergonomically correct work areas. "Back stores really are quite a hot item over the past decade or so," Donkin said. Back stores are part of the growth of the multibillion back treatment business in the United States -- treatment that includes surgery, physical therapy, chiropractic treatment and various home health remedies, Donkin said. "Ten years ago there probably would not have been that kind of market. People understand there are more things they can do to help themselves," Donkin said. Chains with names such as the Healthy Back Store on the East Coast and Texas-based Relax the Back have expanded in recent years, but comprehensive sales figures are not available. …

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