This time last year I was preparing to open my own shop. Today, I went for an interview for a part-time job at a supermarket. So what happened in between?
Being into all things New Age and spiritual I am a great fan of those little shops selling crystals, tarot cards, incense and pendulums, and it had always been a dream of mine to have one of these shops of my own. In August 2013 I took over the lease on a small retail unit on my local high street. The rates were low and the rent was low, and I was full of vision and high hopes. The shop had a back room, where I could deliver my tarot readings, and I was interested in renting the room out to holistic therapists. My vision was to create not just a shop, but a ‘spiritual hub’ where people could come in and have readings and therapies and chat about their experiences as well as having somewhere to buy their candles and essential oils. I visualised myself ‘floating’ around and being spiritual, and meditating before the shop opened each morning. It was going to be amazing!
During the whole month of August my partner, one of my best friends and me set to work fitting out and decorating the shop and we created a wonderful colourful space, with a sparkly counter and stencils of sun, moon and stars on the ceiling. I already had a business name for my tarot reading business, so this was naturally the name of the shop. When the shop was officially opened by the Mayor in September and I made page two of the local newspaper I really felt I was part of the high street.
With positive responses from my first customers and having a very busy opening day I was optimistic, and for a new business things went very well for the first four months. However, what I was not prepared for was the constant onslaught of companies and magazines trying to sell advertising space, the amount of people wanting to bring their own items into the shop to sell and then the people who asked me to order items in for them, only to never return again. Add to that pressures with suppliers, stock, overheads and a very slow February and March I began to feel less spiritual and more stressed. I hardly saw my children, I was obsessed with money and management and the only time I was truly happy in the shop was when I was doing my tarot readings. It became apparent by April of this year that the tarot readings (which increased significantly) were paying the overheads and the retail side of the shop was struggling. It was too much of a niche market for a small town and there was too much competition from the internet.
The idea of the spiritual hub did work. We ran Crystal Therapy and meditation classes on Tuesday, Colour Therapy on Wednesdays, Angel Card readings and meditation classes on Thursday, Indian Head massage and Spiritual Healing on Friday and Tarot Readings on Saturday. Through this I met some wonderful like-minded women who were very supportive and inspiring. My client base for readings trebled and I realised that I could continue the spiritual side of the business from home without the shop, had I wanted to be a shop-keeper I would have chosen to sell something far less specialised.
The last three months have been strange, feeling a mixture of failure, relief and not quite knowing how to move forward. I am only now recognising that I have not failed as I achieved what I set out to create – a spiritual hub. I now have the time and energy to develop workshops and courses, spiritual fayres and events, focus on my readings and of course develop my writing. The experience was a massive learning curve, which has helped me to grow personally and professionally and given me more confidence. I can now get back to being spiritual and creative.
Whatever happens in the future, I will always know that I followed one of my dreams and for a short time made it real … and I don’t regret it!