Beyond the Ordinary
If you are in the market
for a massage, a tarot card reading, or just a cute puppet or
a book about spirits, Insight Concepts is the place to go. And
you will probably see Sharon Astarte, who moved the store to Main
Street from West Annapolis eight years ago, or her daughter Sarah.
"When it stops being fun," Astarte says, "I'll be looking for
something else." But it's hard to imagine getting bored in a place
that offers everything from gargoyles and Herki-mer's diamonds
(stones you place under your pillow to help you remember dreams)
to books telling you how to release your inner dog or catch a
fairy. "I love this business," she exclaims. "I'm a compulsive
buyer, yet I don't have to keep it." The exchanges with customers
also liven up the atmosphere. "All different kinds of people come
here," she says.
"Someone may come in, say this place is weird and walk out, and
that's OK with me," she says with a shrug. Astarte deals with
skeptics the same way she embraces everything else---with a positive
attitude. "We're all slowly waking up. Everyone is in different
stages of awakening. You're ready or you're not." The store owner
observes that while women tend to be more open to the metaphysical
world than men, age does not make a difference. Both young and
old are looking to explore the world beyond the everyday, and
the interest is growing. Anyone seeking a tarot card reading at
Insight Concepts had better reserve early as the shop's reader
is booked on weekends. Astarte notes that the reader has been
with the shop for several years and is well-trained. "It's not
all that 'woo-woo stuff,'" she says, referring to the popular
stereotypes of tarot card readers.
According to the American Tarot Association, tarot readers are
not fortune tellers and they can't reveal your neighbor's secrets.
What they can do is talk to you about you and your behavior and
your relationship with other people, but only from your perspective.
A voracious reader, Astarte says she launched the store after
she read every [metaphysical] book she could get her hands on
at the library. March 30 marked the 13th-year anniversary for
a business that began as a place to buy books and cards on metaphysical
subjects to what is now a metaphysical department store. "Metaphysical
means beyond the five senses," Astarte explains. In other words,
what you can't see or hear or smell or explain. For example, if
you receive a call from an out-of-touch friend who you were just
thinking about, don't just chalk it up to coincidence.
The feng shui craze that is beginning to dominate home decor is
another example of non-physical forces. Feng shui (meaning wind
and water) teaches that the placement of objects and color in
a room can affect your career, sleep, or love life by changing
the energy of your home or office. Customers entering Insight
Concepts may notice that each wall has been painted a different
shade to encourage good chi. Nor is the shop door red by accident.
Red symbolizes life, happiness, luck, and warmth.
While Astarte is a big believer in things metaphysical, she doesn't
promise customers any panacea. For example, she sells minerals
and crystals, such as serpentine, which may help improve meditation
and increase tranquility. "But a stone is not a cure all," she
cautions. "Carrying a stone in your pocket can be a reminder,
'Are you being the most loving you can be that day?'"
Customers often come to the shop on a recommendation, and their
shopping needs vary. Some are looking to buy an unusual gift;
others are looking for comfort to cope with an illness or a loss.
How does she know the right item to help that person? Astarte
simply replies "intuition."
Belief in concepts such as astrology can also help with mundane
matters such as management. Astarte told New Age Retailer, a national
trade magazine in which her shop was featured, that store owners
should hire a Capricorn (those who are born between Dec. 22 and
Jan. 19) because they excel at organizing. (Astarte is a Capricorn
Marie Maloney lives in West Annapolis. When she is not writing,
she loves to travel and try new ice cream flavors.