Karen Gates of Your Keys for Health and Mary Rini of StarCycling Astrology were looking for space to house their independent practices.
But during the search, Rini says, "Karen decided she'd really like to have a center, a place with a variety of people and their gifts: non-invasive therapies."
But that meant finding like-minded souls to share the space. It wasn't hard, says Gates. Active on a number of social fronts, she recruited tenants from among acquaintances.
"We wanted to provide a place where people could grow their own businesses," she says.
They leased 2,100 square feet of space on Casazza Drive behind Shoppers Square at Plumb and Virginia and named the center The Spiritual Element.
Now the center is fully leased to eight in private practice, a few on timeshares, each renting a small office at the center. They lease on a month-to-month basis.
Residents currently include Julia Arehart, who provides therapeutic massage; Joan Costs of Living Crystals; Judy Desipris of Aesthetic Images; Tim Glenn of Life by Number; Monica Smith, a certified massage therapist; and Kelli Stoika, a massage therapist.
"We were all doing it in little nooks and crannies," says Rini.
It took a while for the concept of a spirit mall to catch on.
"At the start, the first four to five months, it was very quiet," says Rini.
She and Gates started with the idea of renting rooms on an hourly basis "In the state of Nevada, that's not the best thing to advertise," Gates says with laugh and targeted practitioners of energy healing who didn't have a lot of gear to move in and out of an office.
But the entrepreneurs eventually converted those hourly offices into full-time rentals.
A classroom, however, remains open to hourly rentals billed either at $20 an hour or 20 percent of the gate.
"We've had very little turnover in a three-year period," says Gates. Rini adds, "People say it feels so good in here. I can relax in here. It works because of our commitment to cooperative energy."
But how to advertise the unusual configuration is a challenge.
"Traditional advertising is our bane," says Gates. "You can't put eight businesses in one ad. And we've had up to 16 people here at one time. However, this set-up provides built-in networking."
The center also keeps a mailing list and allows each tenant to post to the entire list.
Its Web site, thespiritualelement.com is used to promote special events.
Another challenge is the center's name.
Desipris, an esthetician, says that she moved from her previous location in a salon to escape the noise and the smell. But, she says, her mainstream clientele initially were suspicious of the name, Spiritual Element. The massage therapists, whose clients sometimes come from doctor referrals, encountered the same situation. They had to explain that the center has no religious affiliations.
As New Age makes inroads into mainstream culture, a blending is beginning to occur, says Smith, who is a registered nurse as well as a massage therapist.
"Mainstream and energy healing can compliment one another," she says.
Disciplines such as energy healing employ energy frequency, or vibration, which in physics is observed at the level of quantum theory, says Gates.