Monday, August 20, 2012

Embracing the “Spirit” of Your Business

Dear Booksellers,

It’s a quiet evening and the store is empty. You're locking up for the night and hear a thump. The lights flicker for no reason. A book inexplicably tumbles to the floor. The feeling of being watched is overwhelming.

Is your store haunted?

With Halloween approaching, it’s a great time to explore this question. Deonna Kelli Sayed, a paranormal investigator and author of So You Want to Hunt Ghosts (Oct 2012), can help you figure out whether you’ve got spirit guests. Maybe a few otherworldly visitors can help you build publicity and expand your customer base.

Even if your store isn’t a hotspot for paranormal activity, there are plenty of opportunities to take part in your community’s Halloween festivities to boost your business.

Embracing the “Spirit” of Your Business
By Deonna Kelli Sayed

Halloween is around the corner, and ‘tis the season for the spooky and the spectrally spectacular. This time of year celebrates everyone’s interest in ghosts and hauntings. The slew of paranormal reality TV shows has turned spirit talk into water cooler discussion among an unprecedented part of the population. Bookstores and booksellers can capitalize on this interest to help bring new customers in the door.

So You Want to Hunt Ghosts
October 2012
All the better if your business is actually haunted!

Bumps in the Night

A quaint, locally owned bookstore in a small Southern coastal town started experiencing some no-so-subtle paranormal events. Most noticeable were loud bangs that occurred in the early evening, and sometimes during business hours. The noises even shook the building. The owners were baffled, yet intrigued by the happenings.

They quickly capitalized on these occurrences and called in a reputable paranormal investigative team to conduct research. Local media was also contacted, and the team and the bookstore obtained some great local coverage from the investigation.

Not only did the bookstore get free media exposure, but also their willingness to share their stories created a unique way for people to identify with the business. Local residents began coming forth with their own experiences at the location, some of which occurred before the site became a bookstore. Interestingly, it was soon discovered that the entire downtown area shared an affinity for unusual occurrences.

Got Ghosts?

If you work (or live) in a location that you feel may be paranormally active, here are a few things you need to do:

•    Start keeping a journal of paranormal events. Note the time, place, people around, and provide as much description as possible.

•    Start asking others about their experiences on site. Research suggests that paranormal events occur when people are just doing their everyday routine—not when actively seeking out a ghost. Also, events do not exclusively occur at night.

•    Try to find out as much as you can about the location’s history. Contrary to what many people believe, no one has to die in a place to make it haunted.

If you find that you are having consistent or intriguing activity, consider calling a reputable paranormal investigative team. The Atlantic Paranormal Society has “family” teams around the country, and teams are listed by state on their site (look for the TAPS family). There are also many professional non-TAPS affiliated teams around, as well.

If you are lucky, a team may collect evidence of paranormal events and will provide you with a copy of any audio, video, and photographic anomalies. A team should also submit a report documenting their personal experiences at the location. Most teams, likewise, will ask you how much information from the investigation (if any) you want to make public, thus giving you control of how you represent your resident spirits.

Piquing Public Interest, Even When You’re Ghostless

Evidence of paranormal activity isn’t necessary to get the public buzzing about the ghostly side of your business. The Halloween season is a great time to welcome authors of paranormal topics (particularly those writing about ghosts) to host talks.

Even if your business doesn’t have ghosts, your customer base will have stories of their own. Having a “share your ghost story” hour at your location over hot cider gets customers in the door and also creates a sense of community around your business. Invite well-respected paranormal teams to come in and talk about local haunts or to conduct lectures on how to ghost hunt.

Locations housed in historic buildings have an added bonus of using public paranormal interest to teach local history. This is one of my favorite things about ghost stories—they are really retellings about who we are and our local communities. You can also invite local historians, coupled with local paranormal teams who have investigated historic sites, to provide an educational and spooktacular event at your store.

Ghosts or not, utilizing public interest in the paranormal is a great way to build a fun, personal relationship with your customer base!


Photo by Jessica Labbé
Deonna Kelli Sayed is a writer and paranormal investigator in North Carolina. She is the author of Paranormal Obsession: America’s Fascination with Ghosts & Hauntings, Spooks and Spirits and the forthcoming So You Want to Hunt Ghosts?  A Down-to-Earth Guide (October 2012). Visit her website.

Deonna on her favorite bookstore:
My favorite is the local Greensboro-based metaphysical store, Eclectic by Nature. The place is so bewitching, it comes with its own cats. It is unclear, however, if there are any ghosts.

Do you suspect your business or home is haunted? We would love to hear your spooky stories!

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