Therapy Stores encourage practical and positive shopping


Ben Romanowsky

Founder and CEO of Therapy Stores Jing Chen stands in front of the newest location in San Carlos.

Therapy Stores are much more than typical retail stores. Every item in-store is hand-picked from trade shows to foster a positive retail experience for shoppers of all backgrounds.

The San Carlos location opened on Oct. 21, 2022, becoming Therapy Stores’ 11th location. Other peninsula locations include Burlingame and Mountain View. From opening to closing, seven days a week, the store is filled with locals and tourists that come for its unique shopping experience.

“Therapy Stores aims to use products to help people connect. We do so through words, designs, color, and scent,” said Jing Chen, the founder and CEO of Therapy Stores and a first-generation Chinese American.

All the products are organized to maximize the store’s space and make the shopping experience easier and more enjoyable. 

“I walked into Therapy Stores because it looked intriguing from the outside,” said Osnat Loewenthal, a shopper.

Therapy Stores aims to provide a vast array of products like books, candles, clothing,  games, jewelry, and more. This variety makes for a convenient experience in which shoppers can purchase everything on their shopping list in one trip.

Therapy Stores aims to use products to help people connect. We do so through words, designs, color, and scent.”

— Jing Chen

“When I walked in, I expected to buy items for myself. After looking around, I am inspired to buy gifts for friends and family too,” Loewenthal said. 

At Therapy Stores, there is an emphasis on creating a positive shopping experience to make the outing worthwhile. Every aspect of the store, from the music to the art on the wall, is selected with the intention of fostering a welcoming environment.

“Part of our employee training process is to show them how to connect with shoppers on an emotional basis,” Chen said. “We find that the more customers can open up about their lives, the more likely our staff can provide the perfect item for them.”

The phrase “retail therapy” means shopping primarily to improve one’s mood. Items purchased during periods of retail therapy are sometimes referred to as “comfort buys.” 

“I feel a sense of relaxation when in Therapy Stores,” Loewenthal said. 

Retail Therapy Studies by Ben Romanowsky

A strategy Therapy Stores uses to keep guests coming back is including various products that cater to different senses. Some of their best-sellers are their unique-smelling candles that range in both size and design. Furthermore, Therapy offers personalized gifts like items featuring different zodiac signs or mugs with personalized messages.

Beyond Therapy Stores’ impact in person, they also use Instagram to promote the store and support outside causes.

“As a company, we do many little things to make guests feel comfortable in the store. For example, we find by including that we are LGBTQ+ friendly in our Instagram bio, we are able to show guests that no matter who they are, at Therapy, they will be accepted,” Chen said. 

Piper Osgo, a sophomore at the College of San Mateo (CSM), works at multiple Therapy Stores locations on the weekends and weekdays after class. Osgo grew up going to the Burlingame location and knew at a young age that she wanted to join the Therapy Stores team. 

“My workdays go by so quickly because of the positive environment,” Osgo said. “The second I step into the store, my mood improves.”

Therapy has been brightening Bay Area shoppers’ days for the last 27 years. It hopes to be in as many peninsula towns as possible to continue spreading its positivity.

“Our stores encourage guests to go outside the box and try something they’ve never tried before. Often, guests will come in looking for a specific item and leave with a product they never would’ve expected to buy,” Chen said.