Fountain of Youth

Your customers of tomorrow are shopping with you today.
by : 

Jean Haller and Kate Horne

April 1, 2014
Fountain of Youth

One thing is well known in retail: Acquiring a new customer costs at least three times as much as selling to an existing customer base. At Journeys of Life in Pittsburgh, we believe our customers of tomorrow are already shopping in our stores today. We just may not see them that way ... yet.

Whether accompanying their parents or out with friends, the young people ages 15 to 20 you see shopping at your store are primed to become your lifelong customers. This group may well have “grown up” at your store, pulled along in tow with their parents over the years. At our store, youngsters are greeted with the opportunity to pick a stone from our Treasure Chest. Many of these children, now grown, come in and tell us about their stone collection—which we helped them start. They have become great crystal customers for us.

Although teenagers often travel in packs, they should be seen not as an annoyance but, rather, as a blessing. They present a real opportunity for you to make new, lifelong customers. Don’t sell them or your store short by making assumptions about them. While many start out buying lower-priced items such as incense and oils, teens as a group have disposable incomes and are eager to develop their own individual style. Many have jobs, and a large number have their parents’ credit card—or their own—in their pockets.

Many young adults are in the first stages of gathering information about spiritual paths. They are looking for more than incense burners and tapestries. Choice is often what it’s all about for a teenager, and your store can be well equipped to offer them those choices. Stores specializing in unique products for body, mind, and spirit have a responsibility to educate younger customers about the products we carry. Display pamphlets and charts about the benefits of aromatherapy, shelf talkers about the use of divination tools, and explanation cards about your tumbled stones and crystals.

Our stores are a safe haven for finding information about Buddhist meditation, the benefits of yoga, and the true facts behind pagan traditions. Stock books and CDs that will help them discover answers to their search for living a life of substance. A selection of “For Beginners” books in the Llewellyn series or the many “Bible” books from Sterling Publishing are important for anyone starting on their journey of self-discovery and are easily marketed specifically to teens.

Today’s young people are far more aware of the global economy than most of their parents, thanks in part to instant access to information via their mobile devices. They want to know that the person who made the product they are buying was paid fairly for their work and that their purchases make a difference in the lives of these people. Advertise products you offer that are Fair Trade or made locally—this information is important to younger customers.

To cultivate a teen clientele, consider making a few operational adjustments to serve them better. First, make sure you offer student-friendly hours. You need to be open when they are out of school, be it in the evening or on weekends. Also, consider hiring a few employees under the age of 30. A younger staff member’s voice in selecting product can be critical for maintaining sales to this group.

Specific workshops for teens will develop a core of young, active shoppers. Many in this age group are intimidated by adults and would be far more comfortable learning with a group of participants their age. Parents also will appreciate you providing a safe arena for their children’s inquiring minds.

Books for Teens

“A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step,” the saying goes. For thoughtful teens to develop into awakened adults, the first step is often sparked by a good book. Thought-provoking fiction for teens can be merchandised into a display alongside nonfiction and self-help books for young people. Fiction serves to pique interest in spiritual topics and can be a safe and comfortable way for teens to begin considering a path that, while less traveled, is well worth the detour.

Here are our top five titles for teens in each category:

Fiction Titles:

The Alchemist
Paulo Coelho
$14.99 P, 9780061122415

Blue is for Nightmares (4-Book Stolarz Series)
Laurie Faria Stolarz
$9.95 P, 9780738703916
Llewellyn Worldwide

Through Indigo’s Eyes
Tara Taylor and Lorna Schultz Nicholson
$17.95 P, 9781401935283
Hay House

Twilight (The Twilight Saga 4-Book Series)
Stephenie Meyer
$10.99 P, 9780316038386
Little, Brown & Company

The Novice: A Story of True Love
Thich Nhat Hanh
$14.99 P, 9780062005847

Spiritual Exploration Titles

Teen Witch: Wicca for a New Generation
Silver RavenWolf
$14.95 P, 9781567187250
Llewellyn Worldwide

Buddha in Your Backpack: Everyday Buddhism for Teens
Franz Metcalf
$14.95 P, 9781569753217
Ulysses Press

Pocket Guide to Spirit Animals: Understanding Messages from Your
Animal Spirit Guides
Dr. Steven Farmer
$9.95 P, 9781401939656
Hay House,

Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom: A Book of Tarot
Rachel Pollack
$19.95 P, 9781578634088
Red Wheel/Weiser

Sacred Stories: Wisdom From World Religions
Marilyn McFarlane
$12.99 P, 9781582703046
Beyond Words Publishing

Nonfiction Titles

Anatomy of Yoga
Dr. Abigail Ellsworth
$24.95 P, 9781554077663
Firefly Books

GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teens
Kelly Huegel
$15.99 P, 9781575423630
Free Spirit Publishing,

Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters
to Their Teen Selves
Edited by E. Kristin Anderson and
Miranda Kenneally
$14.99 P, 9781936976218
Zest Books,

My Secret: A PostSecret Book
Frank Warren
$21.99 H, 9780061196683

Ask Elizabeth: Real Answers to Everything You Secretly Wanted to Ask About Love, Friends, Your Body … and Life In General
Elizabeth Berkley
$16.99 P, 9780399254499
Penguin Group,

Self-Help Titles

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens: The Ultimate Teenage Success Guide
Sean Covey
$15.99 P, 9780684856094
Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Fighting Invisible Tigers: Stress Management for Teens
Earl Hipp
$14.99 P, 9781575422824
Free Spirit Publishing,

Soul Searching: A Girl’s Guide to Finding Herself
Sarah Stillman
$9.99 P, 9781582703039
Beyond Words Publishing

There Is Nothing Wrong With You: For Teens
Cheri Huber
$12 P, 9780963625595
Keep It Simple Books,

Crap: How to Deal With Annoying Teachers, Bosses, Backstabbers, and Other Stuff That Stinks
Erin Elisabeth Conley, Karen Macklin, and Jake Miller
$9.95 P, 9780979017353
Zest Books,

Gifts for Teens

Finding gifts that appeal to the teen and young adult market is not difficult. Many of their favorite things are possibly already in your displays. It’s mostly a matter of merchandising products together to attract the attention of the younger set.

General gift categories such as crystals, incense, and jewelry are must-haves for a younger clientele. Companies such as Papaya! and Natural Life are very appealing to teens, and anything Fair Trade is sought after by this group, as well.

Here are some specific items your customers of the future will find delightful:

Individual Charms and Bangle Bracelets
Lucky Feather

Embellished Wrap Bracelets With Affirmations
Good Work(s) Make a Difference

Journaling Within for Teens
Soulful Journals by Jodi Chapman
and Dan Teck

Unisex Fair Trade Jewelry
Wakami USA

Hand-dyed Silk Wrap Bracelets With Hammered Quote Plates
D2E Gallery
219-779-9816, artist #27610

“Banana” Bags
Tangerine Temple

Gemstone Power
Minis Bracelets
Milk & Honey

Soft Hoodie Shirts With Inspirational Messages
The Universe Knows

Stress Management CD for Teens
Indigo Teen Dreams

Journey Bracelets
Deva Designs

Whimsical Write Now Journals

Jean Haller is Editor-at-Large for Retailing Insight and owner of Journeys of Life in Pittsburgh, Pa., celebrating 25 years in business and 2012 COVR Retailer of the Year. Kate Horne is the Book Manager at Journeys of Life in Pittsburgh, Pa.