Mind Body & Spirit Thrives
Reproduced, with permission, from Among Women Magazine
Written by: Susan Lorenz Photography by: Jerry Currey
SOME THINGS IN LIFE ARE A SACRED CONTRACT
Merri Weis, Joan Stokes and Connie Miller were interested in healing of mind, body, and spirit through unconventional means. Each woman had the vision of starting a spiritual place that would be welcoming to all cultures. They had all been searching separately for "their place" in the St. Cloud area. And each had decided to take the same medical intuition classes with intuitive and author Carol Ritberger one winter in 2002.
After class one evening the new friends went to a Chinese restaurant together. They talked non-stop through dinner about their dreams and visions. When they opened their fortune cookies, they discovered their future included each other and business success.
Back in St. Cloud Minnesota, one week later, with just a name and a vision for Mind Body & Spirit, they began searching for a retail space to house their spiritual center. They found their downtown location (next to the Paramount Theatre) and began the task of starting a small business. They utilized friends and relatives to renovate the space and they searched for the "right merchandise."
"We were making quick decisions because we had to," says Merri. "We opened the store in August of 2002 just 7 short months after meeting each other. We hadn't even spent time looking at our future or a customer base. We just knew it was the right time to start this business."
After several months of work and support, and a trip to India, Connie found other opportunities and she was off to find new passions. Merri and Joan became partners in Mind Body & Spirit, spending so much time together it must have been fate for their friendship to grow along with the store. Joan says, "Our families got involved in this adventure too, so it's great that we all get along so well and now we're like one family."
They haven't looked back. The store has made it despite the retail slump experienced by other small businesses. "It's like the best of both worlds," Joan says. "I love what I do and I am doing what I love, so it's really not work at all."
Mind Body & Spirit offers customers a calming atmosphere that draws customers inside. "We want everyone who steps inside our doors to feel better when they leave; it's about creating a feeling for customers to want to return to our store," Merri shares.
They feature one-of-a-kind gifts such as Native American articles, hand-crafted and sterling silver jewelry, art, natural stones and crystals, aromatherapy, cards, and other unique gifts. They also have natural soaps, essential oils, music, and books. They offer items made by local artists. "We have some great artists in our local community and we want to help showcase their work in our store," Merri says.
For the mind, body and spirit, they offer intuitive readings, healing touch, drum making, sacred meditation, Feng Shui, and a variety of workshops. With an impressive list of nine instructors in their yoga studio (an addition to their shop next door), people can participate in a variety of classes tailored just for them and their needs such as power, senior, teen and children's yoga. Also offered are Tai Chi, Qigong, Yamuna Ball Rolling, Pilates and others. The classes are so popular that Joan and Merri coordinate multiple schedules of the same classes.
To stay on the fast track, the partners pooled their own investment capital rather than going through traditional bank financing. "We were not the typical business people seeking a small business loan and so banks were not sure that we were good credit risks," Merri explains. "Our business happened because it was meant to be and we just took a leap of faith to create this store. It happened so quickly and we feel if we had taken more time to think about whether to leap or not we might still be thinking and waiting. We were all on the same page, we just had to find each other."
With an eclectic and diverse atmosphere to the store, Mind Body & Spirit's products and services are selected with the intention that people will not find them elsewhere. "And we believe, as shown by the smiles from our customers, we have chosen the right things," Joan says. "The most important reason we are here is to provide a seeker's resource. This is a place where it is safe to ask questions and if we don't have the answers we will look."
Joan and Merri trust that whatever is ahead for them will be equally enjoyable and satisfying as it has been so far. As Joan explains, "We want to be known as: A Symphony of Spiritual Sources for the Mind Body and Spirit."
Mind Body & Spirit website: www.mindbodyspirit-online.com