There is a growing number of Pagans in the US and many of them want to incorporate this into their daily lives aka their source of income. For some reason, almost no Pagan businesses are ever as profitable as their non-spiritual counterparts. I’d like to go into a bit of depth on each of the types of businesses before coming to any major conclusions as to the why and how we can change this.
The manufacturing business is a very common business for Pagans. This represents all those that craft by hand as well as major manufacturing companies that create the commonly sold things such as bumper stickers. The problem with this business is that nearly all of the things manufactured for Pagans are one-time-buys. No one buys the same necklace twice or the same athame twice. The only major items that people buy multiple times are candles, incense, herbs, soaps, oils, “spell kits”. Yes, this is a very viable business, but the problem is that retailers are the ones that buy these products and they are having a hard time which in turn means that manufacturers are having a hard time as well.
This is the path that most end up going down and nearly everyone tries at some point. Brick and mortar stores tend to have a lot of problems due to the lack of large concentrations of Pagans in any single area. They also have far more expenses than online stores and therefore have to have higher prices. They’ll never be able to compete with online drop-shippers or large chains on price simply because they cannot buy products in large enough quantities to get significant discounts. The internet retail stores have trouble because most products are one time buys and there is A LOT of competition. It also seems that the products do not differ enough to allow the consumer to be loyal to a single company because of their outstanding product lines. This is one of the biggest and most profitable of the current Pagan businesses especially when coupled with a service regardless of the hardships that they have to deal with.
There are thousands of people trying to make money off of a Pagan blog, website, magazine, or newsletter. A few make it, but most end up having to have another job. There are very few people that make their living off of this, and the only real section of people in this industry that stand out are the authors of Pagan 101 books because they can profit off of the people who are not living off of the Pagan industries. Though it sounds very pyramid scheme-ish, it’s the truth. Booksellers like Barnes and Nobles sell very few books other than introductory books to Paganism, and these are the places that make authors the most money.
There is only one currently utilized outlet for this business: “magick schools”. These are almost exclusively online businesses that offer the same type of information as a Pagan 101 book and again, they are profiting off of the new kids on the block. They offer very little (from my very limited experience with them) other than an online teacher. This is not a bad idea but the truth is that there are many other paths that should at least be tested in this business.
This revolves almost entirely on a combination of massage therapy, energetic healing (Reiki for example), acupuncture, and acupressure. There are other styles of “New Age” healing that we’ll consider, but these are the main ones. There is an extremely large number of people practicing these techniques both in the Pagan world and outside of it, and so the competition is rather stiff. It is also a business that is not extremely expandable and so those that are not business minded tend to have a very difficult time because they have to be both good at their practice as well as running a business which for many people is a difficult thing to do.
Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation
There is a very large number of these ranging from tourist style entertainment (think Rennaisance Faire) to musical entertainment to general artisans. The problem with these businesses is that they’re very limited to the number of people in their niche (Paganism) unless they can branch out into mainstream (Ren Faires). There’s not much else to say other than they will have problems until the population of Pagans increases dramatically.
There’s very few accommodations or food/drink locations that cater to specifically Pagans. Yes, there are some but they are very few and far between and I have never actually been to one so I have very few things to note other than the fact that our sub-culture is far too spread out in most places for these places to be very profitable unless they can also reach the mainstream.
Professional services would be consultants, financial advisors, and the likes. The problem with trying to start something like this that specializes in the Pagan business world would be that there are very few Pagan businesses that can afford them. Its a business that we desperately need, but not something that we’ll likely find any time soon.
There are a lot of conclusions that we can draw from this analysis. We can all see that an increase in Pagan population would without a doubt make Pagan businesses more profitable and the world is headed in that direction, but we are still a long way away from seeing a large increase in the profitability of brick and mortar stores and businesses. It seems as though more Pagan businesses need to adopt a larger service line in order to be profitable from the beginning. Having a Pagan restaurant/bar that also sold massages in the back and had a “gift shop” (think cracker barrel) would probably have a better chance of profiting than a simple store because it would cause more impulse buying as well as combining the revenue from all of the possible options. It would also create a much larger loyal customer base. This would put more money into fewer hands allowing them to grow their business and in the future, make an impact in the non-Pagan community thus increasing the possible number of customers by increasing the number of Pagans.
Internet shops should push for more brand loyalty by increasing the number of unique items, increasing the number of consumable items, as well as increasing their ability to impact the Pagan community.
The key to everything involves the brick and mortar operations to increase impact on the non-Pagan community, making them more amiable to Pagans, and the internet operations to increase their impact on the Pagan community, making them more “Pagan only” whenever possible. This would open up huge opportunities for everyone to profit from the increased spending into Pagan businesses.