2001: A Business Odyssey

Well, Well, Well

Cosmic thinking is great, but what's going to sell? No one has a crystal ball, of course, but several categories show promise. Under the general heading of New Age, Oliver reports Hinduism and Islam are in. Dwight Lucky, editor of Bellingham, Washington-based trade magazine New Age Retailer, says Buddhism is also continuing to experience a boom. And according to Candace Apple, owner of the Phoenix & Dragon Bookstore in Atlanta, "Feng Shui [the ancient Chinese art of environmental energy flow] is the hottest thing out there."

More generally, look for books, products and services that focus on wellness. Alternative medicines and self-care items will continue to thrive. "Health, fitness and nutrition are going to be key. People are going to be doing more to take care of themselves," says Celente. "But they're going to want more than the esoteric thought; they're going to want to bring these changes into practice."

Perhaps that bodes well for Lenox, Massachusetts, entrepreneur Gregory Dix, creator of the Get a Life store and catalog. Dix's product mix includes folding meditation benches, aromatherapy diffusers, ayurvedically balanced skin-care products, and books and videos that promote everything from yoga to artistic creativity. "The [store and catalog] are for people who are trying to figure out what's missing in life and who don't know what it is or how to find it," says Dix.

Is the mainstream ready for all this positive energy? Apple knows it is. One indicator: sales. Her Phoenix & Dragon bookstore recently expanded to 5,500 square feet, and Apple hopes to gross $1 million next year.

Anecdotal evidence is also compelling. "A lot of people used to come in feeling a little embarrassed about being in a New Age bookstore," Apple says. Today, however, there's no such stigma. In fact, Apple worries that the New Age is becoming old hat. "It's getting harder than ever to get well-known [New Age] authors to come in for book signings and events," she says. "They're all going to Barnes & Noble."

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This article was originally published in the December 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: 2001: A Business Odyssey.

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