the Big Apple: juicy (and sometimes rotten)…something for everyone!


When I was new to Boston (nearly 30 years ago), I wanted a Massachusetts Avenue address – and then a “foot” in the Back Bay. All towns have their “it locations” – and I’ve lived and worked (specifically had shops) in a few: Harvard Square & Newbury Street, to be specific.

big city in lights

big city in lights (from last time in NY)

Now in a region – or country – there are also “it locations,” where “everything” seems to happen…and New York City is one of them…not just for New England, but for the U.S. (and the world as a whole, for that matter). So whenever I go to “The City” (and I’ve been many times), I brace myself for the best and the worst life has to offer. Nothing can prepare you for what really happens.

One thing I’m always reminded about is how well dressed (and clean) people stand out from the otherwise squalid environment of urban gloom and grime-covered pavements. It’s like everyone is living on an old movie set that was abandoned by the folks who’d built it, years ago. Of course, there’s new construction and opulence, but the primary feel is one of human overgrowth and decay, kept vital by new blood and throngs of people (from all walks).

Empire State, from the subway

emerging from the subway, into the skyline…the Empire State building

Into that “milieu” – and during a dreary, snowy day – I arrived, by bus this time, because I wanted a change from the mammoth undertaking of transporting a whole Expo display, loading in, setting up, interfacing with a relentless flow of onlookers, and later breaking down…only to make the long drive home (in the middle of the night).

I wanted to travel light, so everything had to fit into a backpack and a miniature-sized, rolling suitcase. This time I’d be doing “Crystal Readings & Wellness Sessions,” which is how I’d billed my Healer offerings for the Awaken Fair (their 2nd time in New York, and my first, with them).

I’ve worked with a lot on individuals – for 60-90 minute minimums – but here I’d be doing 15-30 minute sessions. It’s like “speed dating” for the New Age. But I surprised myself – adapted really well to the format – and I actually like it. You really can make a difference in someone’s life in just a quarter of an hour…by transporting them inward, and forward…and lending them some concrete (or stone, in this case) tools that serve to push their process forward.

Awaken Fair Healers

poster of Awaken Fair Healers

I wasn’t selling anything (but my services) – and because I was being nomadic – I needed to bring the best, but the smallest, of all the key stone varieties I have. On retrospect, I could probably have made due with fewer stones – but I wanted the full gamut, to have all my options open – plus, it filled the table nicely.

I’ve collected a good number of emails from my last to forays to New York – and a smattering of Facebook and other, longer term contacts – so I reached out…saying “I’m coming”…and encouraging folks to pre-book.

I even contacted a fellow Crystal worker [Kufunya Ife!], and asked if she could find me a “gig” [we knew each other in the music business] – and she did(!) – with a shop on 14th Street (Aum Namaste). The owner there was impressed with my credentials & web presence, and booked me for a few hours that Saturday (before the main event, which I’d originally come for, on Sunday). It turns out that I ended up working with a comparable number of people (say, a half dozen each) – both days – including some work on other practitioners (which is always a treat).

Aum Namaste

Aum Namaste shop

I won’t get into the particulars – or my technique – I think I lay that out pretty well on my Services page (on this site)…check that out for some more background…or shoot me any questions you may have [I like that, at].


What’s a trip to New York without some shopping!

Before I got lucky with that Saturday booking – and knowing there was no way I could bus down there first thing on Sunday (I would have had to have left by 4am!)  – I decided to make the journey early on Saturday (at the more civilized hour of 9am), so I could “have a look around” during the day.

I secured a place to stay with some friends – we’ve been meaning to connect for awhile – so thank you Arthur and Lisa…we had some great quality time that night, and first thing Sunday morning.

Rock Star Gems

replete with product (and possibly colored Citrine)

But there were some places – looming legends – I had to check out. I’d heard customers make mention of them, and had to see for them for myself, to learn what the excitement was all about.

So I walked from 31st St. to 28 St., to Rockstar Crystals – or actually, I walked by it – ’cause there was no store front! I realized they were upstairs, and walked by the door guy (who greeted me, asking where I was headed), and took the elevator up (one floor). Tremendous splendors awaited me behind the bolted, buzzer’d door.

It’s only one room, and not a very big one at that. I introduced myself immediately to the “boss on duty” (she had a younger woman assistant, too) – taking out my card – and inquiring as to whether they do wholesale. “No,” she was curt, didn’t even take my card. “Well you just blew that” I said to myself, vowing to look, but refusing to buy.

Rock Star shelves

shelves and shelves of product

It shouldn’t be that hard to be nice to people – but in New York, everyone’s bracing for offence – and studiously unimpressed with whomever you are. So I proceeded to look around, rebuffing her handing me a tray (since I wasn’t going to purchase anyway). We later, connected, on some level…but it seemed like “the damage had been done.”

The prices wowed me – many of them higher than mine – and as I often experience among others’ retail wares, I found myself wondering “why should this be so much, and that so relatively less?”

I have a strong, internal logic in my own pricing. If a tag’s high, there’s got to be a good reason. And I can explain it. But then again, I’m not “just an employee” – I’ve been the one selecting every one of my pieces – and I’ve also been around this stuff for 28 years!

Most people price merely as an equation of what they paid, using a standard percentage markup. I think that lacks imagination (but maybe makes up for it in practicality). Being into the metaphysics of what I’m selling, it’s not as simple as that. Crystals aren’t just a commodity, an object to be “moved,” like tennis shoes, or a jar of beans.

Apatite heart

gemmy Apatite heart

“How harmonious is the shape, color, texture – does it stand – are there others out there like it? Can I replace it easily?” These are the types of questions I ask myself. “Would I be willing to part with this for less?”

Anyhow, and conversely – “could I sell this if I bought it for this much?” – the shoe was on the other foot. I had to wonder if the prices I was looking at could work for my customers. Still, I often buy retail (yes, with sales tax!).

If a stone is awesome enough – even if it’s expensive, I’ll buy it anyway – I’m “omnivorous” like that. I consider myself an archive of Power Stones – collecting the best I can find for my classes and private work – it’s an added value to my Inner Circle.

Which doesn’t mean I don’t have exceptional stones for sale too – I certainly do – ’cause I “know” (that inner knowing), that not everything is meant for me. I have to be a conduit – not just a repository – for awesomeness. To that end, I have a new webinar series I’m starting, it’s called “Why it’s Awesome!” But I digress.

Rhodochrosite display

huge Rhodochrosite display

Rock Star is completely and utterly replete with inventory – rolling drawers, bins and trays – even acrylic cases bolted to the ubiquitous metal shelving units. I’m just now forgettings something heavy I’d wanted to get (chunks of blue Quartz). I was totally wowed by the sheer volume of Rhodochrosite – more in one place than I’d ever seen – but no “must have” pieces. I could go on, but you get the idea.

Still, I did manage to overcome my resistance to spending, and put together a modest collection (augmented by New York’s healthy, nearly 9% sales tax). A deep, semi-gemmy Apatite heart, and a perfect pigeon-blood Ruby crystal (ideal on the 3rd eye) came home with me (along with a few other items). I do shop with certain customers in mind, bringing their interests with me on these capers.

Astro Gallery

walking up to the Astro Gallery

Then I walked uptown – a good little distance (the city blocks aren’t short) – to 5th Avenue, where the upscale Astro Gallery of Gems has been since 1961. What a breath of fresh air, relative to the ubiquitous $1 pebble bins of most vendors’ crystal displays!  It’s great to see people valuing their showcasing opportunity (and their specimens) so highly. Yes – not all crystals cost nothing, and yes – many of them are worth more than cars.

Bolivian giant Amethyst cluster

Bolivian giant Amethyst cluster (25K)

They’ve got everything from a Lapis table top at 20K to a good selection of high end jewelry. Some of the staff knows more than others, but that’s true anywhere. And they were all nice – polite – and professional (even friendly, imagine that!).

We got into some intrigue around the pricing of a Sugilite – there was a mixup in cost calculation, and the weight was not measured correctly, at first  – but the boss on duty made good (to the best of his ability), and we had some vigorous banter about the behind-the-glass museum pieces (of which there were many!).

I ended up getting a bigger batch than I had at the other place – niceness pays off – and have had them mail it to me. They even gave me subway directions and ran after me, after they’d forgotten to give me my credit card. It felt good to be well received. A bit of good will goes a long way – from customer to seller – and vice versa.

museum quality pieces

museum quality pieces

A new acquaintance can grow into a trusted contact, when it becomes clear that everyone knows what’s going on, and you’re willing to meet them halfway.


I was originally going to share only this last segment, as the full (and only) content of my blog. It was going to be called “Wish I could help (what to do when you can do no right)!”
I’d had such a wonderful weekend in New York – two days of readings – first at a shop, and then at a wellness fair. Great neighbors, beautiful clients, right up ’til the end. That’s when I bit into a bad apple – if it’s fair to say that – and got schooled.
Sometimes your hardest experiences have the most to teach you.
my Crystal Session table

my Crystal Session table

It was going nicely, at first. She stopped by my table and asked what I did – then she went and booked a half hour session – saying that she’d liked my honesty, and was really disappointed by the reading(s) she’d gotten from others (even there).

I did tell her (in advance) that what I do is to inquire as to where she’s at, and that we’d use the crystals to move her along in the desired, positive direction. She liked the idea of holding the crystals. Seemed like a pretty straightforward session coming up.
I can’t give you particulars (without breaching client confidentiality) – it was interesting (her story), but it doesn’t really matter here and now – so we proceeded into the first of several meditations I had planned. I asked her to close her eyes – she opened them immediately – I inquired as to why. She said it was due to her bag, coat, and whatnot…what with all these strangers…which was an understandable concern. So I offered to secure the bag to her chair.
Celestite heart

Celestite heart and cluster

It wasn’t that, it turns out. But things were moving quickly. We’d been talking for coming up on 10 minutes, and I encouraged her again, to close her eyes. She was getting antsy, asking me when I was going to “do something.”

I wasn’t sure what she meant – maybe she thought, as a magician – that I’d make some big revelation, or cause a breakthrough by osmosis. That’s not how I work. I invite people into a shared, sacred space – and together we find things out – together. I don’t work on people – though I can (as with the dead or inert) – I prefer to work with them.
So I pushed the issue a little bit – saying it was key to letting go of the current reality, and making room for new potentialities – that she close her eyes. Maybe it was the “if I can give you even 2 seconds of trust, this whole session will have been worth it” that turned her off.
She snapped, and stormed away, coming back hurriedly to scratch her name off my emailing list.
Smoky oval...beautiful color and energy

Smoky oval – the forgiveness stone – beautiful color and energy

Woah – I felt bad – like I didn’t give her what she’d come for. I’m still scratching my head, wondering what that might have been (that I could have done, to meet her expectation). Doing sessions with certain folks can be like a game that’s rigged – they want something, they don’t tell you want it is, and when you don’t deliver – they get upset.

There’s no pleasing some people. But I still have a lesson to learn.
What if someone can’t close their eyes? They’re that vigilant that they can’t let down their guard for two seconds (never mind one)! I should be able to adapt – not be stuck on my own eight track recording – that being able to “go in” (as I conceive it) is a prerequisite for “doing the work.”
Maybe there’s another way. I should research, ask around. Try something new, for times like this.
milky quartz - nurturance - compassion

milky quartz – nurturance – compassion

But that works for everyone else! I’d never come across this level of resistance before. I’m realizing how compliant most people are with an exercise designed to soothe and relax them. It’s like: most of us know what’s good for us, we just need an opportunity to listen, to take it in…receive.

The whole thing was triggering too – ’cause I’m a child of an alcoholic – so (back then) there was a perpetual guessing game as to what her motivations, needs, and desires were (my mom). I gave up early (trying to figure it out). It’s hard enough – as a child (and an adult!) – to get in touch with what you’re really feeling about something.
It’s devastating when you have to prioritize where someone else is coming from before you’ve even had a chance to identify where you, yourself, are coming from. We are not mind readers – maybe that’s why I never became a psychic – I try to deal with what’s presented, and to dig a little bit, but gently. As a stone guy, I like to deal with the tangible, as much as I’m into Metaphysics.
Labradorite - imagination stone

Labradorite – imagination stone

I do see a continuity between the manifest and the unmanifest. And I’m happy to traverse the veil to explore – what’s inside vs. outside, past vs. future, real vs. imagined – these are all fair game. But when there’s an inner storm raging so fiercely that I can’t get in – or won’t be let in – all bets are off.

Folks like that will do what they do. They need a different type of professional. I mean, if someone comes to me with a broken arm – I can’t tell them to will it back together – I’ll shew them off quickly to the ER.
Still, I can’t help but to replay (now, as then): “Was I not sensitive enough to her cues? How else could I have approached her? What did I do wrong to provoke her outburst? Maybe we can rewind, and try this whole thing over again, only doing it ‘right’ this time?”
How many times had I said that same thing, as a child. I looked at her email address (this failed client) – still legible through the scribbles – and let it go. She didn’t want me getting through then – it’s best that I not trouble trouble by trying to get in touch with her now – let it be.
another session - feeling it

another session – feeling it

You can’t fix everyone – not everyone wants to be “fixed” – maybe there’s something about the way they are right now, that’s working for them. What I have to offer is not for everyone. I and those who need me are best served by not chasing down those who dislike or don’t connect with me – even if they had at first – ’cause people change their minds.

I just noticed an “Unsubscribe” from my newsletter – someone who’d registered for not one – but two of my free webinars! I’d spent two hours presenting, baring my soul to them -albeit anonymously – and I no longer deserved to have their email address.
I’ve had people attend my events, and later tell me that’s not what they’re looking for. Like many avid entrepreneurs I know, I am passionate about serving those who want me to serve them, and we simply can’t get caught up in everybody else’s drama.
Fenster, or Skeletal Quartz, is emblematic of "sickness in health" - where the interior has been compromised - but the shell and structure remain quite solid, if perforated

Fenster, or Skeletal Quartz, is emblematic of “sickness in health” – where the interior has been compromised – but the shell and structure remain quite solid, if perforated

Still, I take this all with a grain of salt, and as a learning opportunity. You have to take the “bad” with the good – just like a visit to the big City – absorb what enriches, nourishes, and improves you. So I am grateful, not just to my progressively moving clients (and the helpful staff at the shops I visited), but to everyone and everything else…you are all welcome in my world.

Like they say “if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.” Or if you believe in Reincarnation, what kills you might actually make you stronger, or better for the lesson it taught you…in the next life. Since we have no tangible guarantees of an afterlife, it behooves us to take our schooling seriously, and use it to improve our game here and now…while we’re still on the court.
About the Author: Kyle Russell has been working with Crystals since they were “revealed” to him, back in the Harmonic Convergence of 1987. He’s built on his now intrinsic knowledge – through experience – working with clients and buying & selling ever since. In addition to this Blog, he issues periodic newsletters, leads Meditations & Workshops, and presents at metaphysical Expos. To reach him, and get his updates, please email

Expo/Festival madness – the view from across the table

AnGee Lewis and Kyle Russell, on opposite sides of 'the table'

AnGee Lewis and Kyle Russell, on opposite sides of ‘the table’

What’s it like for a vendor at the shows you go to? I thought you might like to know, since the minority of us are standing on “this side of the table.”

Most of you (readers) are on the other side of the table… browsing like bees – going from flower to flower – exhibitor to exhibitor.

Yours is the choice. It’s a buyers’ market. If a vendor’s display (and selection) doesn’t suit you, you’re movin’ on!

I thought it would be enriching if you had a glimpse into what “we” go through. Hence, me writing this particular Blog. But a story is never just a story. It’s all about what we learn from it – or wish to convey (or “teach”) – through our experience.

NYC at night

rolling in to NYC at night

A few weekends ago was a textbook example (for me), of what it’s like to showcase at an Expo. Part of what made the experience particularly special – for me – was the fact that it was the first such show I’ve done in New York City.

I’d been there before, to wholesale to shops – 20 years ago – and also to perform, as a musician (more recently)…but this was different.

You can be sure it crowded my mind for weeks, leading up to the event. I bought new product – specifically to fill out my inventory for the occasion – I wanted to impress!

That entails selecting, buying, transporting, unpacking, pricing, photographing, and the uploading (to the web) dozens of specimens (cause that’s what I try to do with everything I get…put it through my inventory system). I also decided to overhaul my display M.O. as well – so I purchased velvet trays and pads – as well as a carrying case.

my entire display (including tables) on 2 dollies, in my hotel room

my entire display (including tables) on 2 dollies, packed into my hotel room

I laid out all my flats and boxes in advance, choosing only what would fit onto the two dollies I was bringing.

I had a 6-foot-wide by a 9-foot-deep space to fill. That’s an odd dimension, and took some advance planning.

The organizers had promised to provide a 4-foot table, which turned out to be a 6-foot table. That would have been good news for some folks, but not for me, ’cause I’d mapped out every square inch in advance.

I figured it out, though. It helped that I had gone to Costco, and purchased an actual 4-foot table, as well as a 6-footer – of which I’d already had two – but this newfangled one folds in half (which is nifty).

The goal is to streamline and to simplify, going forward – to make your life easier – because you can be sure challenges will come up, unforeseen. Like how was I gonna unload into the hotel from a busy downtown side street?

If registration as a vendor was required before I could even load in, who was going to watch all my stuff (or my car!)? And where, exactly, was I gonna fit an oversize vehicle (my full sized passenger/cargo van is about 7 feet tall) in a city than can barely accommodate “normal” driving machines?

the view from the 18th floor - where the Expo happened - looks the same as it did 70 years ago

the view from the 18th floor – where the Expo happened – looks the same as it did 70 years ago

Enter the brilliance – and generous response – which came from my asking my friend Nigel to come along. I’d reserved a 2-bedroom suite, on account of my family coming, but it turned out they couldn’t leave town. So I offered my bro from the music world the opportunity to have a weekend in the city – to do whatever he wanted – which he did(!)…so long as he could help me load in and out. He even drove us part of the way back (what a blessing)! We’d been meaning to catch up for months, so that was just fine by us, and it turns out he made some great connections of his own (at the Expo) that weekend.

I’ll only mention in passing that the hotel didn’t have my reservations (I’m finding this out at 11:15pm, after we’d just rolled in) – or that when Expedia lopped off my 4th night there, I ended up paying more (for the 3 nights that I did stay there) than I’d been on the hook for originally (for 4 nights!).

Snafus – things you can’t anticipate, and couldn’t begin to include in the price of your product – but they’re costs nonetheless…the cost of “bringing Crystals to market.” I hope buyers recognize that we vendors absorb these myriad tangible – and emotional costs – wishing (sometimes fruitlessly) to make them up on the “back end,” with some big sales. One of my fellow vendors reported more in sales to one big customer than all his others that weekend, combined!

8 main elevators, 1700 rooms(!)

8 main elevators, 1700 rooms(!)

As we were pushing my 10 large bins out of the freight elevators – on the 18th floor (a bellman had gruffly sent us ’round the back when we tried to load in to the main elevators) – a different group of exhibitors was loading in too. They asked us what we were selling.

“Crystals” we replied.

They were not pleased – since after having been told there were “only 2 Crystal vendors,” there turned out to be about 4 major vendors – and another handful of exhibitors with meaningful crystal displays.

It creates an atmosphere of competition for everyone (when there’s already lots of folks selling “the same thing”) – which can be healthy – and good for you buyers. But everyone selling sees their earning potential drop. It also hurts our (needed) margin when buyers get to pit us against each other for the lowest prices.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the end buyer’s benefit (hello: I’m a retailer) – but part of my mission in telling this story (can you tell?) – is to demonstrate the types of liabilities & costs we encounter at every turn (as vendors).

Fortunately, everyone was selling something a little different. And everybody had their unique strengths. But without an unlimited audience passing through, there’s only so many dollars to go around. If they don’t spend it with you, they’re spending somewhere else!

tasty (standing) Cobalto-Calcite & cubic Pyrite cluster I sold

tasty (standing) Cobalto-Calcite & cubic Pyrite cluster I sold

I got one “insult” (that’s how I heard it) – “you’re the most expensive crystal seller in the place” – from someone who’d just walked away, after making a purchase (from me!).

He and his wife had come by and hammered me on pricing earlier, but then walked away – even after I dropped the total (on just 2 pieces) lopping off 20 bucks – which turned out to be a whopping 22% discount!

Most vendors are stretching it, to give you 5-10% off. I’ve seen it, cause I’m a buyer too (and they know I’m a dealer).

I enjoy giving breaks in general, but in particular when someone’s really enthusiastic, and buying multiple pieces.

I was actually rattled by that experience, though (and that doesn’t usually happen for me). A buyer from the previous day came by (very happy, with his new necklace, which he’d gotten from me ), and I confessed (after saying something nonsensical): “I’m a mess.” I drove 4 hours Thursday night, and then we loaded all my stuff up to the room, going to sleep way after midnight.

Friday, I set up from 10am till 3:30pm, just taking things out and organizing them. That’s over 5  hours on setup! You couldn’t tell me to set up any faster. Some things take the time to “do right.” I didn’t just lay bins out, or put out jewelry boxes…I took everything out…and put all into play with that new velvet-pad display-system I mentioned earlier.

Crystal Energy Zones poster

Crystal Energy Zones poster

I was also excited to put out my new Crystal Energy Zones poster – which I’d created specifically in time for this particular Expo. It condenses the various Chakras down to 4 key areas, all all of which are pertinent to the human body. These are “populated” by the 29 varieties of power stones I find essential to working with our own energy system [email me at to get your copy].

The place was open to the public from then (3:30pm) till 10pm on Friday. That was another 6.5 hours on the floor – and I had just one meal throughout (and one bathroom break) – from start to finish! I’m a big eater, but you can be sure my stomach shrank to accommodate the long intervals between meals.

I wish I had photos of them all – there was the African sorghum meal – the Chinese Indian dish – and even raw coconut (which tided me over each afternoon).

me trying out the Coco-Jack coconut opener (with the inventor there)

me trying out the Coco-Jack coconut opener (with the inventor right there)

On Saturday, the hours were 10am till 9pm (count ’em: 11 hours); and Sunday was 11am till 7pm. With the long drive home to Boston looming ahead – after a 2 hour load out (that turned Sunday into a 16 hour day) – I had earned the right to reach the end of my tether.

Fortunately, this guy’s friend – whose sweater I’d complimented – offered (and delivered) a 5 minute Chi Gung massage session right there, with us standing in the aisle. It was heavenly, actually, and revitalized me…mostly to receive positive energy from someone who wasn’t trying to undercut the value of my hard work and display efforts.

I take this thing quite seriously – I’m gonna share with you a blog soon about the life cycle of a crystal: how it gets into my possession, as well as what it goes through before it gets into your possession. You’d be surprised by the number of hours (and dollars) that goes into developing a selection the likes of which I’ve been showcasing at events lately.

I was vindicated that after having frequented all of those other vendors, those prickly buyers returned to me because guess what – they didn’t find what I had elsewhere – and they ultimately came to appreciate the value of my pieces (though they wouldn’t admit that).

Quasi - with his new pieces - for embedding in a pendant

Quasi – with his new pieces – for embedding in a pendant

At other shows, my average sale is $30-50, but this time it was $50-100. That’s not because people are buying a dozen $5 stones – or three dozen dollar pieces – I don’t carry those. My pieces start at about twenty bucks because too much less isn’t really worth the time I put into them. My niche is to shoot for a cut up – just over the average – including both the stones I acquire & the collectors I’m aiming to attract.

I’m catering to folks who’ve been around, who’ve seen most of what’s out there, and are searching for more – for special – for unique. And that doesn’t have to be big and pricey. Take for example, my new friend Quasi’s purchases: a small Polar Jade piece (with its own type of texture) & a family of DT’s floating together like Herkimer Diamonds (which came from Morocco). He makes pendant breast plates, and these were just right for him.

"galactic mountain range"

“galactic mountain range” prase Quartz

Alternatively, I also sold some very special, more expensive pieces. Take for example this rare, crystallized, green Prase Quartz I called “Galactic Mountain Range.” Coincidentally (and happily), I sold another, single “point” of this material online that weekend.

But that was about as expensive as I expected to go. Most people – except those in the know, who were really curious – didn’t even notice my Ethiopian Opals (which run even higher in price range).

I barely have any Crystals that can fetch over a G. And that’s on purpose. Yet I saw some items pushing over $1000 mark – even stretching into the several thousands – at other booths.

One visitor even complained (regarding another vendor) – about an item that seemed way out of proportion in price – relative to smaller pieces of that same material. To the vendor’s defense, I’d have to say that larger pieces are sometimes more rare, and cost more than their aggregate weight in smaller stones, because it’s hard to find that variety in larger dimensions. All and still, it was oddly reassuring to notice that “fault” can be found with every vendor. Nobody’s perfect.

I do have a pet peeve – though – about strange, incongruous pricing. I try to have an internal logic behind the price of every single piece I carry. If you care to know, I can explain it to you (for any and every item I carry).

Smoky Quartz and other, darker items

Smoky Quartz and other, darker items

I don’t price based on a blanket markup – as I imagine most people do – particularly wholesalers, who can’t be bothered with sorting through their lot (that’s our job, as retailers).

I price each piece based on a variety of factors. There’s size, color, texture, rarity (even within its type). Purchase price, replaceability, and personal “wow” factor all matter.

All these variables come into play…but this internalized list (the “axes of analysis,” as I call it) goes on and on! It would be hard to capture in words. There’s ultimately no substitute for the years of experience I bring to my pricing (and selection!).

The competitive vibe among sellers is actually something a lot of us have been overcoming (especially at the bigger shows). It’s so petty when venues block healers from reaching their audience, or sharing what it is they have to offer.

For all intents and purposes – if they did “open the gates” – the new arrangement would have every promise of creating a win win situation (for all of us). But no, we all want to be gatekeepers. “If you want to buy or be well, you have to come through my portal.” Sounds like Religion (but I won’t go there).

Papaya Quartz

Papaya Quartz

I find that it breaks the ice – with all but the most negatively minded people – when I buy from them, even at retail (though I certainly prefer – and merit – wholesale pricing). I’m an omnivorous buyer, I go for the good stones, wherever they may be (and whatever they cost).

I love the light hearted comradery that happens “on the floor.” There’s a sense that we’re all in this together – and that when we’re travelling from afar – we’re at the mercy of the organizers (who are ultimately “responsible” for bringing people through the door).

Indeed, there’s a little bit of an “us vs. them” feeling amongst the vendors, relative to organizers. It shows up in how we react towards the space we’re given; or even down to how the electricity is served up.

Our electricity kept getting unplugged…and had to be taped to the wall. It was a little annoying to have paid nearly $200 for access to a socket that was already there in my own booth space. And it wasn’t even that professionally set up (the wall plate wiggled). Three different sellers were being fed off of one outlet. Shimmying it tighter to the wall was the only method by which we could “stay juiced.”

Hospitality matters too – and shows up in areas such as making a special food line for us vendors – vs. relegating us to fending for ourselves (as if we were in the wild), amidst the throngs of festival goers.

Jewelry show display bins

Jewelry show display bins

Back (a bit) to my pricing philosophy and perspective. Some people think that because one person’s selling a bunch of tumblers in grab-bag-baskets for a couple of bucks each, that they’re not making a good margin of profit. Think again – they’re making as good a margin as anybody – and those nic nac accessories and non-rock, “shiny objects” that fly off the shelves…they’re there because they’re easy markup items. I was offered a few, to carry, but I declined…saying “I’m just a rock guy.”

Please don’t think that because some rocks sell for $1 to $3, that all rocks cost – or should cost – that amount. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on purchases I have no guarantee will ever sell. That’s what you do when you’re really into it.

Be driven by the product, not the cost. There are more important things to life (and Crystals) than the numbers. It annoys me to no end when people just look for the price tag, and then drop the piece, as if it has no other intrinsic worth than the dollar sign sticker which is stuck to it.

blues and greens - from Turquoise and Amazonite - to Crysoprase, Jade, and Chrysocolla

blues and greens – from Turquoise and Amazonite – to Chrysoprase, Jade, and Chrysocolla

Another pet peeve I have is when people come up out of nowhere – as they did specifically at this show, searching for Shungite – and ask “do you have such-and-such?” Just ’cause somebody’s written a book about it recently – extolling its virtues – doesn’t make it the best thing since sliced bread!

When it’s revealed that I don’t have it (whatever it may be…”Natural-ite” was another favorite…that made me laugh), they disappear again. Never mind that I have some of the best specimens of the key, classic varieties (and some hard to find rarities too) right there for the viewing, which they’ve completely overlooked. That just shows me they’re into the trends, and have no real depth to their interest in Crystals.

As I was packing up, after the close of the show, a woman walked up and asked casually “can you explain about Crystals, and what they do for you?” lackadaisically. I’m like (in my head): “really, you can’t seriously care about the truth of the matter, never mind what I have to say about it.”

pendulums galore

pendulums galore

Back to pricing – I have a pricing paradigm that I’ll share with you sometime too – it’s a way for you to understand better what you should expect to get for under $10 (as a retail buyer) – between $20 and $40; $50 and 90; over $100 – and over $200.

Another insider tip on my M.O. – if I don’t believe in it, or even get it – I don’t carry it (which I suggested above).

Take pendulums, for example. I don’t use them, but I know many who do. And I appreciate their aesthetic, as well as how helpful they can be (if you are into it). So I buy the best I can find – but not an overabundance of them – and I do display them.

Aqua Aura point(s)

Aqua Aura point(s)

Another variety I don’t use personally – but recognize the power of – is the treated Aura Quartzes. Precious metals are powdered, and fused to the surface of Quartz in a vacuum, at high temperatures. I’ve noticed they can become quite brittle – but they’re oh so pretty – and have a special, different, and larger than life aura.

My mainstay are real specimens  – including polished pieces – which I don’t necessarily consider “worse” than rough minerals.

I had a couple of people call me “hard” because I couldn’t go down indefinitely on the price of a standing Amethyst mini-cathedral. I’d rather hold onto something – wait for someone who appreciates it – than give it away beneath cost (or at a price that really doesn’t respect the piece).

Having been in the business 25 years, I know what will and won’t come around again.

Enough of my bellyaching! I don’t want to lose your ear – you’ve indulged me this far – but to get what we go through, you really have to understand this psychological tug of war that’s going on between us and folks who really don’t get it.

I had this same experience in the music business, where folks think you’re just “playing.” They don’t see your doing years of rehearsal, schlepping, late nights, driving tired behind the wheel, banging on doors for gigs. It ain’t easy work, but (somehow) we keep at it – we actually love it no matter what!

milky white Aragonite cluster lit from beneath by a light box

milky white Aragonite cluster lit from beneath by a light box

To tell you the truth – it’s self sourcing – energetically. I could be around Crystals (and all of what that entails) every single day, all day. Some of my best stretches have been spent exactly that way!

But you know the other reason we do it (and put up with all the BS)? It’s the folks who do get it, who recognize what you’re doing (and what it takes to deliver what you’re delivering). They make it worthwhile.

When I thought all was lost (that Saturday), and that I had no hope of recouping my expenses (never mind my product cost, or the worth of my time), I had a handful of good people come through. I’d just met them – for the first time(!) – and that carried me through.

Take also, for example, these encouraging words from a colleague afterwards: “You had a terrific display (and at least three attendees remarked to me that your crystals were of much higher quality than anything else at the show)! I think you really brought something special to the floor.” Feels good!

Or, from an elder, old time friend and fellow Crystal energy worker, based in NYC: “So good to see you again, I’m so proud of you. You have a great collection. And I like that you honor Earth Mother’s gifts.”

What else can I say?