Anna Otts (sitting) and Erin Hull, readers and teachers who practice at the Reno Psychic Institute, participate in a session at RPI.
Photo: Reno Psychic Institute
Theresa Peacock is in the middle of playing catch-up.
A longtime professional psychic based in Reno, Peacock paused her services in November as she recovered from a neck injury. Now in late January, Peacock is sifting through the hundreds of voicemails and dozens of emails she’s received from current and prospective clients while she’s been out of commission.
“Everybody’s stressed out,” said Peacock, owner of Above and Beyond Psychic and Astrological Services. “Everybody’s concerned about their health. They don’t know what’s going to happen. And with all of the astrological influences we’re going through, people are really looking for the right path for them. They want spiritual guidance, and they want assistance in finding that path.
“So, demand is way up, I just haven’t been able to fulfill it yet.”
Early in the pandemic, Peacock received a lot of the same questions from customers seeking answers as the economy shut down across Northern Nevada.
The most common queries centered on careers and financial security — “am I going to keep my job?” and “am I going to be able to keep my house?” — while some looked for guidance dealing with the unforeseen stress of schools closing.
“Some people asked me, ‘How the hell am I going to teach my kids?’” Peacock added.
While many psychics have performed virtual readings during the pandemic, Peacock, calling herself “antiquated,” has only been offering her services by phone.
This limits the services she can provide. Peacock’s mediumship readings and past-life readings are not available via phone call, but she still offers astrological readings, tarot readings, spiritual counseling and dream consultation.
As a result, Peacock, who charges $80 for a 30-minute consultation, saw customers who prefer in-person readings drop off as the pandemic dragged on.
“The people who are used to coming in and picking their cards and do that whole experience were a bit resistant to switching to phone,” Peacock said. “They were, in my opinion, unrealistically waiting for the opportunity to come back in.”
Peacock said her store, located on the corner of East 6th Street and Valley Road in Reno, is too small to accommodate in-person clients without “totally revamping it to be COVID compliant.”
Between offering limited services for nearly a year and halting them altogether the last two months of 2020, Peacock said her revenue last year was down roughly 65% compared to 2019.
But, with plans to get back to phone readings in February, Peacock expects her calendar to be full based on the number of emails and calls she has to return. For now, she plans to continue doing consultations strictly by phone.
“I’ve got a lot of people to call back and get scheduled, so I’m going to be really busy for a good two months,” she said.
Reno Psychic Institute has also kept busy during the pandemic, said founder Laura Peppard.
RPI offers everything from three- and six-week classes to 12-month programs to one-time sessions. Services are being offered in person and via Zoom.
Peppard said the pandemic has driven more people to book classes and programs, which range in price from $100 for a three-week relationship class to $200 for a 12-month clairvoyant program. One-time healing sessions range from $15 to $40, while one-time readings range from $30 to $170.
“The classes and programs are a little bigger commitments, so when people are real busy in their life, it’s hard for them to do it,” Peppard said. “And with things slowing down, they’ve kind of been flocking in here, so I feel fortunate.”
Peppard said since COVID hit, she has seen about a “50-50” split regarding the number of sessions her business does in-person versus Zoom. Aside from Peppard, who charges $170 for a one-hour reading, RPI uses a pool of about 10 independent contractors who are either teachers or readers.
Unsurprisingly, Peppard said perhaps the biggest pandemic challenge is operating with limited capacity for in-person sessions. Along with its Reno location on Hillcrest Drive, RPI has a branch in Carson City, the Carson City Intuitive Center on William Street.
Peppard’s venture also includes the Crystal Cove gift shop in Midtown Reno, which sells crystals, healing stones and custom-designed jewelry.
Because of having to shut down those spaces for nearly three months and having limited capacities since reopening, RPI’s revenue was down about 30% in 2020, said Peppard, adding that the revenue drop would have been a lot worse if RPI had not shifted its offerings online.
“I don’t know why I put off Zoom classes for so long, because you start to realize the whole world’s your oyster, really,” said Peppard, noting that going online has led to more clients from outside the Reno-Carson area.
Even pre-COVID, a surprising number of people say they have seen a psychic. According to a 2017 YouGov survey, 1 in 5 Americans have consulted a psychic or medium. All told, market research firm IBISWorld reported that such businesses had a combined revenue of $2.2 billion in 2019.
Peppard isn’t quite sure what 2021 has in store business-wise, but “it looks promising,” she said.
“The way life is out there right now it’s kind of a silver-lining gift for everyone to focus on what’s truly important,” she explained. “When you’re busy and chasing after everything, your attention’s all over the place and maybe you miss the real show, which is what’s going on in your space and your development of your abilities and character.
“People lost their jobs. They are asking who are they? Where are they going? How did they get there? And thinking outside the box is part of what this is all about — allowing yourself to consider possibilities.”