Meet Your Merchant: Susan Sanford of Vineyard Complementary Medicine

Susan Sanford, owner of Vineyard Complementary Medicine, cuts the ribbon on her West Tisbury location in 2008. — Photo Courtesy of Susan Sanford

Susan Sanford, the owner of Vineyard Complementary Medicine, started her business as a Vineyard Haven acupuncture and massage clinic in 2003. This year, she celebrates her ten year anniversary.

How did you come to start Vineyard Complementary Medicine?

I opened my doors as an acupuncture clinic in March 2003, in a small space in Vineyard Haven, after I received my master’s degree in acupuncture and Chinese medicine. I never had any intention of opening a physical therapy private practice. But before I knew it my PT and acupuncture practice grew into a full-time practice and grew out of my first space. I treated physical therapy patients pro bono for three months while my insurance credentialing was processed.

Where did you come from?

I was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, and raised in Southbury, Connecticut. I was a 1993 UConn graduate.

Why did you come here?

I was doing a travel PT assignment in Colorado and woke up one day thinking, “I need to move back to the East Coast to be closer to (my then boyfriend, now husband) Mike, but it had to be an Island. Nantucket did not seem a good fit, so M.V. it was. I moved here in 1997, I took a temporary physical therapy position at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital to cover my now close friend Andrea Cranson’s maternity leave.

Did you have moments at the beginning (or even later) where you thought: This will never work.

I left the hospital three weeks before I closed on my first home mortgage. I was freaked out. I easily clocked 80 hours a week trying to support my fledgling business. This Island has been so good to me. I never felt like it would not work, I just had faith and optimistic outlook. In 2005, after I decided to grow VCM, I got the opportunity to purchase our current building in West Tisbury. The day we signed the purchase and sale agreement I found out I was having my first baby. MJ, my oldest, was born two days after we moved into the new building. My second baby girl was born in 2007, so that made two maternity leaves within 18 months of relocating.

How did you find the willpower to keep going?

My husband, Mike Magaraci, and mentor Joe Corbo were instrumental in helping to keep my sanity. My patients are so motivating and especially all my amazing staff.

Any particular cases you can share with us (names not required), whose success really confirmed everything you’ve wanted to accomplish?

I just received a letter from a mom thanking me for helping to get her son back on track physically and emotionally after a severe injury that put him out of sports for the whole year. It was wonderful to hear how our entire staff helped her and her family have a positive experience.

For more information on Vineyard Complementary Medicine, call 508-693-3800 or visit