The Silent Power of Feng Shui –
During a cocktail reception one evening in Northern New Mexico, at the end of the 1990’s, I met a woman and by way of introduction, she told me that she was a feng shui expert, having studied under a Chinese Dao master in New York City in the 1970’s. I’d heard the term, understood what it was broadly, but didn’t know much more than that. Just having returned to the U.S. from six months of permanent travel in Western Europe and West Africa (69 hotel rooms in 6 months across many countries), I had landed in a small New Mexican town and offered to manage a textile gallery until the next corporate job and relocation presented itself. “Does this work?” I asked Susan. Wide-eyed, accompanied by a conspiratorial whisper she responded slowly “Oh yes.” “Then meet me at the gallery at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.” The gallery was located close to the town’s center plaza, off the beaten path, housed in a 200+ year-old adobe that had once been a stable. The owners were world travelers and frequently absent, for many months at a time. My goal for the business was to keep regular hours, increase visibility, foot traffic and of course, sales. Apart from word-of-mouth, forging alliances with other shop owners, and keeping regular, consistent hours, the only dollar investments made in marketing and advertising were directed towards Feng Shui and Susan’s* weekly visits for a few months.
During her initial consultation that occurred during the fallow, off-season period, Susan rearranged certain pieces in the entryway, filled bowls with water and positioned them strategically according to the Bagua map in her head, hung mirrors, placing them in discreet positions, burned pleasing incense and arranged fresh flowers. “Don’t worry; we’re not turning this into an Ashram or bad Chinese restaurant!” Susan would often say as she’d buzz about the shop, flitting her long, shiny auburn hair. Susan’s first visit was about 2-3 hours and then I was left to wait for foot traffic. During these dead, mind-numbing periods, we would oftentimes not have any visitors (save the mailman) for days on-end, or less than a handful of tourists who didn’t understand why a hand-knotted rug from tribal regions in the Middle East cost upwards of $1,000 when they could “Buy a 10 x 10 carpet at Wal-Mart for $300.” “Ah” I thought silently, “yes you can and yes you should because you don’t appreciate the intrinsic value here despite explanations of what you’re seeing and fondling – let me give you directions to Wally World right now.”
Just before I was about to close that dark, quiet winter’s night, the same evening of Susan’s first visit, a gentleman from New York walked into the shop and stayed for a few hours. He was a collector and knew exactly what he wanted – very specific colors and designs from Kurdish tribes – and the shop had exactly what he was looking for – unique, one-of-a-kind pieces from parts of the world not easily accessible to outsiders. His purchases totaled five figures representing one month’s of sales we would expect to generate during the high season. Was this a fluke? Coincidence? Absolutely not. One of the underlying principles of Feng Shui is to have clear intentions behind executing its precepts: I wanted to accomplish increasing foot traffic with the right kind of buyer, creating an atmosphere of well-being for the guests, and imbuing the inventory with “take me home” power, thus increasing sales.
There were several, key pieces that were gorgeous and affordable yet hadn’t sold in years. During Susan’s weekly visits, I’d show her the pieces and she’d do something – I don’t know what, but yes, in a matter of days, they would sell as well. Given the fact that this was a very long time ago, I don’t recall exact metrics or timeframes but I can comfortably state that during my nine months or so at the gallery, we generated the equivalent of one year’s worth of sales in the first three months and the upward trend continued, breaking annual sales records of previous years. Obviously, productive, profitable selling is a craft and apparently, something I’m good at which has been demonstrated by selling many different types of products and services, in a variety of industries, from the tangible to the intangible. Selling is based upon building a trusting, respectful relationship between buyer and seller, solving your customers’ problems and delivering a solution to meet their needs and wants. Feng Shui is about creating and nurturing the environment which allows the selling and buying relationship to take place in an optimal fashion.
*Name has been changed
CK - this is such a wonderful and inspiring story. Thank you very much for your contribution. I have often marveled at the effectiveness of feng shui. As Bob Proctor from the movie The Secret often remarks, you don't have to understand it for it to work. Many people don't understand electricity, but they can still enjoy the benefits of it. I find that is very true for feng shui.
I wish you much happiness,