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Votes

Sacred Circle

<b>Owners: </b>

Anysia Oswald & Thomas Singer

<b>Bios: </b>

I was a "Navy brat" born at Bethesda Naval Hospital, whose family lived all over the U.S. I believe that experience broadened my perspective, helping me to appreciate diversity in people and places while still recognizing the underlying unity that binds us all together. I studied art and philosophy in college, and worked as a fine art photographer and professional astrologer prior to opening Sacred Circle.

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and he and I met at the University of Wisconsin in 1970. We got married in 1971 and have lived in Boston, Atlanta, and Oakland, California. His career was in high tech until 2001, when he (like so many other unfortunates) lost his job in the high tech crash. We moved from Oakland to Alexandria in 2002, and after considering various options, decided to create this store.

<b>Why did you choose this particular business? </b>

I had wanted to have a metaphysical bookstore/wisdom center for about 30 years, but this was the first time all the elements fell into place to allow me to do so. My instincts told me there had to be many others in this area who needed a space to explore spiritual issues in depth and connect with kindred spirits. After having so many resources at my disposal in the San Francisco area, I wanted to offer some of that bounty to people here.

<b>What have you learned from being in business? </b>

Although we haven‚t been in business very long, we've already learned quite a bit, both on a business and a personal level. For example, I'm learning to control my emotions and be patient with difficult people, not to take things personally in those situations. I view this as an important spiritual lesson as well as business-like behavior. Tom has found that official statistics can be useful to some extent in planning a business, but talking to experienced business owners is invaluable.

<b>A challenging or humorous experience or the biggest surprise from working your business: </b>

I've found two major challenges. One is keeping my stress levels down and having some semblance of a life outside the business; the workload is enormous! The second is staying true to my vision. There's a lot of superficial "fluff" out there that purports to be spiritual but isn't, and sometimes people ask for it. I've decided I need to follow my inner guidance and maintain my integrity, even if it means occasionally not carrying certain items. The best surprise has been the incredibly positive response we‚ve gotten from people since we opened.

<b>Advantages/disadvantages of doing business in Alexandria: </b>

An advantage of doing business in Alexandria is the charming atmosphere of Old Town that draws tourists and others looking for boutique-type businesses. We believe we have gotten most of our customers from people finding us just by walking down the sidewalk rather than from advertising. A disadvantage of doing business in Alexandria is the high rent, especially in Old Town. It makes it very difficult to meet expenses and turn a profit. It may be necessary to regulate the number of national chains operating in Old Town in order to retain its unique character. As the rents increase it will become even more difficult for small businesses to exist against the fatter wallets of the national chains.

<b>Description of services &/or products: </b>

Sacred Circle carries a wide selection of books on spiritual, metaphysical, and social topics, including holistic health for people and animals and environmental issues. We also have hard-to-find CDs, such as music for yoga, relaxation and healing, Eastern and Western chant, Early Music, and World Music. We carry unique greeting cards, beautiful jewelry, statuary, beeswax candles, incense, ritual items, and much more.

Our services include author appearances, intuitive readings by professional practitioners, and we are beginning to line up classes on a variety of topics.

<b>Description of the business: </b>

Sacred Circle is a multi-cultural, multi-spiritual store providing books, music, gifts and services in a tranquil setting. Our motto is, "There are many paths up the mountain, but the view from the top is always the same."

<b>Professional affiliations/associations: </b>

We belong to the American Booksellers Association (ABA), the Coalition of Visionary Resources (COVR), and are about to join KSMET, the Old Town merchants‚ association.