Something funny has happened to the New Age movement-it's gone mainstream. Whether it's due to spiritual longing, environmental concerns, changing attitudes, impending millennial fever-or, more likely, a combination of all of the above-a surprising number of consumers are embracing products previously thought of as, well, weird. And, as incense burners, love beads and Gregorian chants captivate the masses, it's clear New Age entrepreneurs are tapping into a force perhaps even more powerful than they ever envisioned.
"People are searching for other ideas because the old ideas aren't working," says Eric Sherman, owner of Central Casting, a Berkeley, California, company that sells an extensive line of
metaphysical jewelry. "People are moving away from traditional religions, medicines and lifestyles and are looking for alternatives."
Sherman, 48, who launched his company four years ago, does his part by offering alternative-seeking consumers merchandise ranging from medicine bags and I Ching medallions to zodiac talismans and endangered wildlife pendants. "What we are basically selling is ideas," he explains, "ideas for people to grasp ahold of and think about."