Sunday, June 7, 2009

New Vibrations - Feature

This one's here because, for no reason whatsoever, this is one of my favorite short pieces - and Karen Parker is one of my favorite Jacksonians. If you're ever there, go see her.

New Vibrations owner Karen Parker describes the idea behind her store:

“We call this a store of spiritual and cultural diversity. I wanted to bring things from around the world to Jackson. I wanted to bring things of a spiritual nature to Jackson. It was really important to me to bring the tools and things that people use in different religions.”
New Vibrations opened two months ago on State Street in Fondren. Its bright purple exterior and its location between the Fondren Corner building and Treehouse have brought considerable traffic to the business. Some came following positive word of mouth, some came during Arts, Eats, and Beats, and some simply found it.

“People are beginning to search these days, stepping away from their basic religions, and beginning to open themselves up,” Parker said. “The world is a smaller place than it ever was before. I’ve always felt that we all call God different names, and he or she had different faces in different religions, but that we all pray to the same God and that it’s really important for us to see ourselves talking to – and about – one God and one Creator.”

“I think each person should be allowed their own path to God.” Parker, who was born and raised in Jackson, wanted to let the people of Jackson have some of the same opportunities that she had in determining her own life’s path.

“For us to understand that our diversity and religion is to be celebrated, and not used as a division, I wanted to bring that to Jackson. I found it in my own life really early and I enjoyed reading and studying comparative religion. It’s just always been a fascination to me.”

Parker came from a Christian family, attending both Methodist and Baptist churches while she was growing up. As she grew, she began to attend churches of different denominations, experimenting to find the place where she thought she would be the most content. Now, she says:

“I consider myself an extremely spiritual person, but I don’t put myself in any one religious category.” Her customers do not fit into any one category either.

“Most of the people that come in here consider themselves to be Christian, but they are very interested in other ways of thinking. We have quite a large pagan community here in Jackson and they are huge supporters of mine. They love the things that I have.” What she has is a collection of eclectic items, music, and books.

“I try to make sure I keep things that speak to your spirit or that may be of a religious nature, such as statues of Buddha or Hindu goddesses, or prayer beads. I don’t carry a lot of Christian things, because there are other companies that [do that] and do it very well.”

Instead, New Vibrations carries things like decorative masks, chakra jewelry, crystal balls, Egyptian statuary, karma flags, antique Tibetan singing bowls, natural soap, American Indian jewelry, intention candles, and items to help Feng Shui your home.

“I have things to make you happy and things to give you a spark in your life. I have some Celtic things, I have some things from Bali and Africa, I have some things from different parts of the world.”

“I want to have things that make you happy,” Parker said. “Or make you curious, and intrigue you, and make you question things.” She insists that her store is spiritual, and isn’t representative of what is often called “New Age.”

“I hate the words, ‘New Age.’ I hate them. Everything you don’t understand gets lumped under that heading, and I hate that. I don’t consider myself New Age because I don’t like the words, and I don’t like the connotations those words have. If you’re New Age, then you must be worshipping the devil or something like that, which is ridiculous. Some people may call my store New Age, but I prefer the word, “Metaphysical” – something beyond the physical.”

New Vibrations is Parker’s first business, but she says it is also something more than just that.

“I wanted to have a space – my back room – where people are invited to sit, have a cup of tea or coffee, and talk to each other. Read books about other religions and other beliefs that will open up some conversation between people with different beliefs, so that our intolerance is lessened by communication. I want people of a like mind to gather and talk.” But, she says she knows that conversation and a cup of tea may not be everybody’s cup of tea.

“I understand there are people that aren’t going to be happy with my kind of store. That’s okay. I understand that. If people don’t want to patronize the store, I understand.” But she considers herself fortunate that the business is located in the arts neighborhood.

“I always wanted to be in the Fondren area,” she said. “When I thought about my business, I always conceptualized it here. I wanted the energy here. I wanted the feel of it. This is like a gift from God.”

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