Fortuneteller Sees Bright Prospects In Hard Times
Interview by Ari Shapiro. Originally broadcast on NPR "Morning Edition" on 2/20/2009. Download an MP3. A transcript follows:
Ari Shapiro: And stories like the ones we just heard can sometimes leave the impression that nothing positive is happening in American business. Well in fact, some people are finding their business is doing better now than ever before! One of those is Alexandra Chauran of Renton, Washington. Chauran is a second generation fortune teller. She works at parties and she has individual clients, too. It's a full time job, reading tarot cards , tea leaves and crystal balls. She works on-line and face-to-face. And Chauran says her business is up
Alexandra Chauran: I've been able to raise my rates from $2.22 a minute to $4.99 a minute.
Ari Shapiro: Wow, more than doubling!
Alexandra Chauran: Yeah, and when I did that, I was just kind of going with it and seeing what would happen and, to my delight and surprise, a lot of clients actually added themselves to my work, and that was wonderful. I've also, just this year, started social networking. And so I looked at the numbers in my social networks. And so my Facebook has over 300 friends. My Twitter has over 250.
Ari Shapiro: And so that may or may not translate into paying customers, but hopefully at least some of them would become paying clients eventually.
Alexandra Chauran: Well actually, I use it mainly as a client retention tool rather than advertising.
Ari Shapiro: Since the economy has started getting worse, are you seeing certain themes pop up in your clients'conversations?
Alexandra Chauran: Absolutely. I've noticed my client base that includes Realtors has gone up significantly! So often I'll have Realtors that will call every day and say, "well I have this client, is this a good fit for this house" and I'll do a reading on that. And these days I'm seeing a lot more questions about real estate even from people who are not Realtors.
Ari Shapiro: When people come to you who having been laid off, do you ever feel that they're seeking a sense of hope that you can't provide them?
Alexandra Chauran: I think that it's a good sign when people come to me. A lot of people ask me if the people who come to me are sort of weak sort of people who are desperately in need of help, and I think that, though there are certain clients who come to me in desperation at first, I think that the kind of people who are steady clients of mine, they're more into that sense of empowerment and that sense that they can change their own lives and their own future.
Ari Shapiro: And so if someone comes to you and says "will I have a job within a year? " Do you feel comfortable saying, "maybe not?"
Alexandra Chauran: Well, I feel comfortable guiding them. I've kind of learned throughout the business some ways to give people a positive outlook in stead of sort of shutting them down. Because, well, it's easy to feel like, "the world's against me, I don't have any power. It's all external things happening to me." But I think when you realize that there are so many options open to you, I mean, there's a lot to be thankful for and a lot to look forward to.
Ari Shapiro: Alexandra Chauran is a fortune teller in Washington state.