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.
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.
…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.
We 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.
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.