ASTORIA — Before opening their holistic healthcare business on the corner of Commercial Street, Eric Grey and Amanda Barp got a warning.
“People warned us about traffic here in the summer and I wanted to be like ‘You have no idea what traffic is,’” joked Grey, a former Portland resident and co-owner of Watershed Wellness. “Everything we thought might be problem ended up not being one.”
In January, Grey and wife, Barp, opened Watershed Wellness where they offer acupuncture, Chinese herbs, massage therapy, lifestyle coaching, yoga and Pilates. As business owners and practitioners, they both bring a different approach and focus to treating people. An acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist, Grey, 40, specializes in chronic disease such as cancer and Crohn’s disease. Barp, 36, is a massage therapist and yoga instructor.
“I do a lot of pain management and helping people feel better in their bodies, both from a yoga and massage perspective,” she said.
Perfect place, filling a community need
After running a clinic in Portland for almost 10 years and having their daughter leave for college, they began to miss the charm of smaller-scale communities.
“We both grew up in small towns,” Grey said. There was only one place they considered.
“We fell hard for this town a couple years ago,” Barp said. “If we would get a weekend off, this is where we would come.”
They couple said their business and its approach will benefit the community.
A new experience
Grey and Barp are eager to introduce new services, particularly to those who may not have any experience.
“We’re trying to get the beginner in, people who have never done yoga in their life and think that yoga is beyond their capacity,” Grey said.
“Maybe it’s older people with mobility issues or fishermen who think ‘Yoga isn’t for me.’ We really want to reach those people who don’t have a background or wouldn’t ordinarily do it.”
Misconceptions often arise from unfamiliarity, they said.
“The biggest misconception, especially for yoga and acupuncture is that it’s not for them,” Grey said. “People think ‘Oh, that’s the thing hippies do.’ But it’s a terrible misconception. One of the biggest countries in the world (China) has run on Chinese medicine a long time.”
Another common misconception is that acupuncture is only for pain. Occasionally, people question Grey about the effectiveness Chinese medicine.
“There’s a little bit of a prejudice, but we try to educate people,” he said.
Tips for cold, flu season
An epidemic flu season has been sending people to area hospitals for treatment.
“Sometimes treating a cold is as much about what you don’t do, as what you do,” Grey said.
“When people have a cold, they always want to drink mint tea. But instead of drinking mint, drink very strong ginger tea.”
Doing that twice a day can help and will minimize symptoms, he said. Grey also cautions people not to take echinacea-containing products after the first day of a cold. It can extend the life of a cold, he said.
Finding a balance
Running a business while providing a caring, patient-centered approach is not easy to balance, Barp said.
“It’s a consistent problem for other practitioners,” she said. “How do you balance this very heart-center, caring service but still keep the business open.”
After operating a clinic in Portland for almost a decade, Grey and Barp are still learning new ways to improve.
“Taking care of people is what we do,” Grey said. “Sometimes you get going as a business owner thinking about the books and logistics, but stepping back and focusing on how we can make the business better for other people is one thing I’ve learned.”
For more information, visit watershedwellnessastoria.com.