Tag Archives: David Conneely

Floating Back On Main Street

You may have noticed that for the past 6 months, Westporters were more stressed than usual. Our calm, balanced natures seem to have floated away.

ifloat-logoIn fact, our stress levels spiked after iFloat closed July 31. The Main Street spot — above Oscar’s, which coincidentally ended operations the same day — offered 4 saltwater tanks. Floating in warm water in dark, insulated private rooms was a rejuvenating experience.

Running the business became too stressful, though, for owner David Conneely. After more than 4 years, he needed some balance in his own life.

Westporters can now relax. iFloat reopened on Monday.

New owner Terri Stangl is excited to be here. Like Conneely, she is a float believer.

Terri Stangl

Terri Stangl

The Ann Arbor native came east to study psychology (with a philosophy emphasis) at Yale. After earning a law degree from the University of Michigan, she spent 18 years running a poverty advocacy non-profit in Flint.

But in 2008, things changed. Her parents died, and she felt burned out professionally. Floating resonated as a way to slow down, be honest with herself, and figure out life changes.

Terri opened a small float center near Flint. “There’s a lot of stress in that area,” she notes. Customers came from as far as 50 miles away.

After 4 years, as her marriage ended, she took an offer to work at a bigger float center in New Jersey.

Terri knew Conneely — floating is a small world — and when she heard of the opportunity in Westport, she grabbed it. Since August, she’s been getting ready — and learning about this area.

She has learned, for example, that Westport is a “really interesting community.” And that it is filled with stressed-out people who “want to optimize their own thinking.”

Terri has made some changes. She redid the showers and interiors. She added a state-of-the-art ultraviolet light sterilization system.

She also changed the schedule. iFloat is now open 7 days a week.

An iFloat relaxation tank.

An iFloat relaxation tank.

So far, Terri says, the reaction is “wonderful. People are very excited to have us back.” She’s attracted newcomers as well as longtime floaters — “everyone from hedge fund people to massage therapists.”

She’s honoring gift certificates and prepaid float series from the summer. New clients get 3 floats for the price of 2. And Terri is working on a Valentine’s Day special.

You know — that most stressful day of the year.

(For more information, or to book a float, click here.)

Main Street Business Floats Away

More than 4 years ago, David Conneely made a life-changing decision. He moved from Brooklyn to Westport, to own and operate iFloat.

The Boston-area native did not know anyone here. He had never owned a business. But he loved floating — a method of reducing stress and feeling relaxed, using warm salt water in a quiet place — and wanted to make a difference in people’s lives.

He put his life into his business, on the 2nd floor of Main Street above Oscar’s. He educated people about the benefits of floating. He hosted events that enhance mind-body connections. He solved his own problems, like retail neighbors playing loud, pulsing music.

“It’s been quite a ride — a lot of blood, sweat, and tears,” David says.

“But I look back and see a positive impact on people’s lives as a result of what I have done here. I’ve made a difference, developed friendships, a community, people whom I love and who love me.”

David Conneely iFloat

Yet just as David helps folks relax and feel better, he’s come to understand himself and his own needs too.

At the end of March, he planned to use his one day off — a Monday — to hang out with a client, who has since become a good friend. But a business issue arose, and he canceled.

Anne told David that she felt his life was unbalanced. As they talked, he realized she was right. He did not have much of a life outside iFloat. He was unhappy.

He said, “If someone walked in and wrote a check for the place, I’d walk away.”

She encouraged him to sell.

One of the iFloat relaxation tanks.

One of the iFloat relaxation tanks.

He started the process. He de-cluttered the place, wrote a valuation document, met with his accountant and friends. It was not easy.

When a suitable arrangement could not be found, he decided to just shut down.

But David could not simply walk away. He stayed open a month longer than he planned — through July 31 — so that people could use any gift certificates or pre-purchased floats they had.

“I’m glad I gave everyone a month’s notice,” he says. “I’ve received a lot of support, by email and in person. It’s been an honor to own and run iFloat. I’m grateful to have met so many wonderful people.”

iFloat logoDavid realizes that he and iFloat have impacted many lives. “I’m happy what I’ve done here,” he says. “And I’m happy to be moving forward.”

David plans to publish a book about floating (it’s almost done). He may go back to teaching high school biology — his previous profession — or do some life coaching or counseling.

He may resettle in Boston or New York. He also looks forward to spending 3 months on an island off Thailand.

Small businesses frequently come and go in Westport. Seldom, though, do they impact so many lives — or leave with such grace and class.

Truly “Parking Within The Stripes”

Spotted earlier today in Parker Harding Plaza:

(Photo/David Conneely)

(Photo/David Conneely)

Lights Float Across Main Street

iFloat is a downtown oasis of relaxation and rejuvenation.

iFloat logoLast year, owner David Conneely thought of putting up decorations to brighten the drab Main Street scene. But he was too busy —  that’s what happens when you run a business that helps people slow down — so it never happened.

This year, he lit some candles. He wasn’t satisfied, but it was a start.

Yesterday, he read an “06880” post about another dismal, decorations-less downtown holiday season.

This morning — as in, 2 a.m. — David was hard at work adding color to the iFloat windows above Oscar’s.

iFloat lights 1

He’s proud of his work. And, he notes, he bought the lights locally. So he looks forward to bringing his receipt to the Spotted Horse, for a free dessert.

The view from inside.

The view from inside, looking toward Tavern on Main.


Dancing Against Cancer

If you were downtown today, you saw a dozen or so outgoing, active young people collecting money at various street corners to fight pediatric cancer. Their signs and cans noted a Penn State connection.

Alert “06880” reader David Conneely wanted to know more. He interviewed one woman, and learned that this weekend’s efforts are part of a much larger initiative.

Last year, Penn State raised $13 million.

Hopefully, Westporters give generously to the cause.

iFloat’s David Beats Goliath

For a year and a half, David Conneely had Westport floating on air.

Okay, water.

His iFloat therapy center above Oscar’s provided a unique way for thousands of men and women to relieve stress and rejuvenate bodies.

But — starting a year ago — even floating quietly in the dark, suspended in a warm solution of Epsom salt, could not relieve David’s stress.

Ten weeks of construction at a women’s store downstairs caused iFloat to close often. Then — after sheet rock ceiling was removed — the store’s music, telephones, even sounds of conversation and laughter shattered the tranquil time that iFloat clients cherished.

One of the iFloat relaxation tanks.

One of the iFloat relaxation tanks.

David tried to work with the store. But months of phone calls, emails and meetings produced no remedy. The store was not legally liable to solve the problem, so David could not sue. Besides, he’s not that type of guy.

David spent plenty of time and money consulting with contractors. No one could help.

He spent more time and money searching for a new site. He did not want to leave Westport, but he’d already lost six figures of income.

In May David spoke with landlord Lee Papageorge about leaving.

iFloat logo

As they worked on a mutually beneficial exit strategy, David’s father died. David spent time in Boston with family, including his brother Martin.

Martin — who owns Conneely Contracting in nearby Arlington — had been one of their father’s primary caregivers. He also had 4 girls, so he’d been unable to help David.

Finally, though, he had time to come to Westport.

Martin assessed the situation. “I can fix this,” he said.

He ripped out a wall and the float tanks. He elevated them — no easy task — and uncoupled the entire float room from the floor and walls. He installed vibration isolators — shipped overnight from California — along with sound-isolating glue and soundboards. Then Milton added new woodwork.

He did not charge his brother a dime.

It all worked perfectly. iFloat is back.

David Conneelly, in iFloat's warm and welcoming lobby.

David Conneelly, in iFloat’s warm and welcoming lobby.

True to his nature — and that of his low-key business — David is not shouting the news. But he is thrilled to offer floats again, proud of the support of his family, and honored by the staunch support of customers like Jamie Walsh, Grayson Braun, Betsy Wacker and Bill Donaldson.

“They kept me motivated and involved,” David says.

At last, David can relax.

Along with thousands of satisfied, gratefully floating customers.

(Click here for hours of operation and more information.)

David (Literally) Battles Goliath

David Conneely owns iFloat. For the past year and a half, the “float therapy” center above Oscar’s has relieved stress, rejuvenated bodies, and earned thousands of grateful followers.

But now David is stressed out. Construction at Madewell — a new women’s store downstairs — has brought noise and disruption. It’s the antithesis of the iFloat experience — and it may drive iFloat out.

On Friday, David sent this email to 2,000 loyal customers:

(Since we opened), we have seen thousands of people eliminate stress, pain, and find solutions to great challenges in their life through floating. We are honored to be partnering with all of you on the path of helping people slow down and enhance their lives and the community.

Floating in Westport.

Floating in Westport.

Unfortunately, we have a new neighbor downstairs. Coach left and Madewell (a J. Crew store) moved in. iFloat had to be closed for countless hours during 10 weeks of construction in May, June, and July. We’ve also had to battle with construction people as they came in during hours they were not supposed to be there. It has been disruptive to the iFloat community. There have been times when people call saying, “Please, I need to get in.” The cost to our community has been staggering.

Madewell opened 2 weeks ago. No one told us they were going to be removing the sheet rock ceiling that separated iFloat from the store below. It is now gone and the sound is coming up into the float chambers….

Andrew Shinn and David  Conneely, owners of iFloat.

Andrew Shinn and David Conneely, owners of iFloat.

…Given the changes taking place in our building, I do not see how this location can be conducive to peaceful floating.

We are more than just a place where people float. We care about this community. During Hurricane Sandy, we opened our home to our clients. We opened iFloat as a place to hang out and take showers. During the Newtown incident, we gave complimentary floats to people affected by the incident. People used our services. We saw the impact iFloat has had on people. We do events and give back to non-profit organizations through financial donations, float donations, and through our time.

We believe in an iFloat that is peaceful and tranquil. We believe in an iFloat where people slow down, look within, and find solutions to the challenges in their lives. We believe in an iFloat that makes a difference in the local community and beyond.

iFloat logoWe at iFloat are not sure how best to proceed, but we are open to lots of suggestions at this point…. iFloat needs your help.

I asked David — a calm, quiet and reasonable man — for some more details. He said that when Coach was underneath iFloat, there was occasional noise — but it was never an issue.

He says that neither his landlord nor J. Crew thought about how the new store would affect the business above it. David Abelow — a Westport resident, iFloat member and architect who builds music production studios in New York — did some adjustments to Madewell’s sound system, taking out the bass.  

That worked — a bit. But iFloat members kept hearing music, people talking, and phones ringing. David closed off 2 of his chambers, and used the 2 that were least noisy.

A glass brain sits in the iFloat conference room -- a soothing place, once upon a time.

A glass brain sits in the iFloat conference room — a soothing place, once upon a time.

Another iFloat customer reached out to an executive he knew at J. Crew. The response from the construction division was (paraphrased) “we know all about iFloat; we tried to help; they’re just not satisfied.” Further communications have given David the impression that this is not a high priority for J. Crew.

Meanwhile, David is exploring solutions, such as raising his floor and putting insulation underneath. That’s costly, though. 

Bottom line: David says he’s a small business, and can’t wait for corporate tape to unravel. He closed for a while, to allow Madewell to do construction. He feels that his own good neighborliness is not being reciprocated.

Interestingly, there’s a page on Madewell’s website that talks about their “green committee.” The company wants to have a minimum impact on surrounding environments.

Westport might be a good place to start.

You Float At iFloat

From the Peace Corps to teaching advanced biology to recent immigrant teenagers at the Brooklyn International School, David Conneely has spent his working life helping others grow and reach their potential.

Now he wants people to float in warm water in a dark, insulated private room. It’s a relaxing, rejuvenating experience — and one that, in its own way, encourages people to grow and reach their potential.

Floating in Westport.

Floating in Westport.

David’s path to iFloat — on Main Street above Oscar’s, it’s the only 4-room float center east of Arizona — was an outgrowth of his own desire to understand how to harness the mind’s shifting patterns.

David first floated — in warm water with 1000 pounds of Epsom salt, no light and almost no sound; the incredibly relaxing experience calms the nervous system, amplifies slow brain waves that are the source of creativity and insight, and stimulates dopamine — about 5 years ago.

Inspired and enlightened, he bought a float tank for his own New York apartment. He taught workshops. Last summer, a colleague offered to invest, if David wanted to expand.

Andrew Shinn and David  Conneely.

Andrew Shinn and David Conneely.

He loved teaching, but sensed the time was right to make a move. Andrew Shinn, his partner in a long-distance relationship, lived in Cambridge. They decided to open a float tank in Boston, and gave themselves a year to get ready.

Through Google, Andrew stumbled on iFloat, an existing business in Westport. Driving to Brooklyn to visit David, he stopped in.

No one was there. Andrew learned the former owner had basically abandoned it 2 months earlier. Two days from then, workers would rip out the float tanks, and turn it into a chiropractor’s office.

Lee Papageorge, Oscar’s owner and iFloat’s landlord, saw Andrew’s concern. Lee said the iFloat owner might sell his business to Andrew.

After poring over spreadsheets and talking with lawyers, David and Andrew made an offer. Nine months earlier than they expected — and 160 miles south — they owned a suite of float tanks.

iFloat logoThey opened on January 8, part time. David took an early leave from his teaching job, and moved here in March. Andrew joined him in April. iFloat was now a full-time operation.

Though they did not choose Westport — “it chose us,” David says — the choice worked out well.

The owners have done plenty of community outreach. Artists receive 3 complimentary floats, in exchange for providing float-inspired works. Teachers, students, public employees and nurses get discounts.

A monthly wellness event (with free food and drinks) is a popular attraction. Courses and lectures on improving brain patterns and communication are good draws too.

David and Andrew love those crowds. But they also appreciate serving as sounding boards for people after their hour in the float tank.

A glass brain sits in the iFloat conference room.

A glass brain sits in the iFloat conference room.

“Things pop into your mind while you’re suspended there,” David explains. “You’re isolated from all stimuli. You just rest, reduce stress, and concentrate on healing your body and mind.” iFloat’s lounge (with tea) is a good place to re-acclimate.

As a long-time teacher, David enjoys educating Westporters about the float experience.

“We want this to be a place were people can come, slow down, reflect, and leave in a better state of mind.”