Categorized | Community Spotlight

Community Close-up Q & A New Renaissance Bookshop

Posted on 26 March 2014 by Jason

We are delighted to spotlight New Renaissance Bookshop this month to share further insight into one of Portland’s gems and the owners, Darlene and Jamie Potter.

Often People refer to you as the conscious living bookshop on NW 23rd, but your business and role in the community reach far beyond just books. What is it that people find when they come to New Renaissance?

As a conscious living store, we offer the community an array of over 18,000 books, healing crystals, CDs with a listening area, gifts and statuary filled with meaning and beauty, and events to enhance your spiritual life’s journey.
We talk a lot about vibration in the store. Just like tuning forks, people resonate to a certain vibratory energy. Many people entering the store for the first time talk about a feeling of coming home or belonging when they feel the energy of the store. They become relaxed and move into a magical state where the unexpected can happen. Synchronicity flows where old friends meet and new relationships are formed. Just the right item is found, just the right book or music jumps off the shelf, and just the next step on the Path is taken. For some, this step can be life changing!

Can you share with our readers some of the history behind this iconic store that stretches across four classic Northwest buildings?

We started the store on December 4 of 1987. That means we are in our 27th year. The idea of the store happened when we were at a crossroads of career for both of us. The mission of the store came clearly in visual pictures while Jamey was on spiritual retreat. It was the clearest and strongest guidance that we have received to date. This work was ready to be born!
From Day One, we wanted the store to bring people together for spiritual community and sharing. We want people to find those of like mind, their tribe. So the events program has always been important. We wanted to provide one-stop shopping for the conscious consumer, so that you could get all your gift items here. We offer not only mala prayer beads crafted by artists reciting mantra but also a handcrafted compass for a great graduation gift.
We wanted to keep our prices moderate, so that we offer the most beautiful products with the majority of items priced under $25. We support good companies and artists with fair trade practices.
The store has expanded three times. We started in one Victorian house. In 1994, we marched south into the next two Victorian houses. And in 2002, we added our event center in the fourth house. Even the architecture can be mysterious. We have seen friends come in the store and tell us that they are amazed how big the store is. We like all the nooks and crannies that folks can get lost in. Some of our regulars will tell us that they have just realized that we have an upstairs with our Zen Garden fountain and statuary area.

What has been the most challenging situation you have faced in all your years in business and how have you addressed that challenge?

The recession and digitalization of books and media have been our biggest challenges. But “what doesn’t kill you makes you strong” applies here. Creativity became our friend and we needed to put out even more energy.
We offer the unexpected! The Free DVD Rental Program (one every time you come in the store) is very popular. Our Events Program has grown—events almost every day with three on Saturday and two on Sunday. We have local practitioners presenting product demos Thursday through Sunday—everything from energy clearing sprays, to local Oma chocolates, to luscious essential oil sprays. Every day, you can meet our readers and psychics at our reader table. We have expanded their evening hours. Free Tea is always available and each child who visits gets to pick a free semi-precious stone.
We did a mini-remodel in 2011 and brought in more crystals, jewelry, tea and body products. The response was immediate and we knew we were on the right track. We have to stay light on our feet and come up with new areas of interest. Right now, we are bringing in more men’s jewelry.

You seem to have a very loyal staff, and a regular and returning customer base. How have you managed to maintain these levels of cohesiveness and connection?

Our staff is our true treasure! There is a wealth of knowledge, experience and creativity in our staff members. We hire people who are serious about their spiritual quest and want to share their interest with others. We have a diversity of interests in different traditions and practices represented in our staff that makes New Renaissance balanced and strong.
To support the staff and customers, we offer staff meditations and free meditations for the public on Wednesday evenings at 5:30. We say universal healing prayers for all who request them. We have five prayer boxes around the store. We always have mini-miracles happening with our AUMS. Even the computers respond to an AUM, a little love and a reboot!
We are all about building relationships and seeing the Universal Consciousness in each person. It is not always easy but always rewarding. We support each other and everyone who walks in the door.

What’s new at New Renaissance in 2014? What do we have to look forward to in the year ahead?

2014 is looking good! We are considering another min-remodel this year to bring in more crystals, salt lamps and products for alternative health and body care. Tea, chocolate and yummy snacks have been strong and we will probably expand those areas. We are hitting the Spring Gift Shows and we will expand into wonderful areas.
We are co-sponsoring an exciting Afterlife Conference this June, featuring Eben Alexander (Proof of Heaven) and Raymond Moody (Life After Life). There will be sixteen other presenters too.
As always, we have built this mission at New Renaissance with the help and relationships that we have with you. We love your suggestions. Tell us what you would like to see. Together, we will keep New Renaissance strong and vital. We appreciate you!

Check their upcoming events and see a virtual tour of the New Renaissance at NewrenBooks.com.

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