The Sacred Paths Center (SPC) Board met for their regularly scheduled meeting last night, however all scheduled business was tabled to focus on the financial affairs of the Center. A board quorum was present, and several Board members contributed to the discussion by phone. The SPC website now has installed a fund-raising thermometer to depict their progress toward the immediate $7500 goal, of which half will be matched by other donations. They are currently at 20% of this goal.
*NOTE. The Sacred Paths Center is continually updating their website with fund raising progress and new events. Please check their website for updates on their current situation !
CJ Stone, Board member, has been delegated spokesman for the Sacred Paths Center. I was able to interview him last night, Friday July 8th, after the Board meeting.
What is the financial status of the SPC?
CJ Stone, Board Member, spokesman:
The immediate needs to keep the doors temporarily open were covered. The Center needs 7500 dollars to continue to operate through this month. The Board has decided that 12,000 was what we needed by midnight of July 30th or we will close the facility. If we can secure that 12k dollars, we can pay our bills to zero and have a positive balance to keep the center open and by able to steer the Center in a direction that will be financially viable.
What changes would make it viable?
Some things have happened within the store that have made it a financial jumble. We will sort that out.
We have had some troubles from the construction on University Avenue. We are going to respond to that in a couple of ways. Right around our area is a large residential community with a lot of family homes, and 5-7000 people living in condos. Those people have been coming to the store and been asking for particular things, like soap, candles, and massage oil. We will take some of the money and re-arrange the inventory so we are serving those two populations. All those people, about 12,000 total, are within walking distance of the Center, and we can serve them whether Pagans come, or construction continues. This will bring a constant, strong stream of revenue from them, selling consumables. They have been in our store looking for certain types of things, and we are going to provide them. Not that we are going to stop providing “Pagan” things. Since we have a market here, we are going to serve it.
We are looking at strengthening our relationship with communities we already serve, and serve them better. Teachers want to teach at SPC. We have a very strong and steady stream of teachers. I think we can manage the facility to increase that. We want the SPC known as a place to find training, to find the best teachers, in whatever the field. Out particular strength now is Tarot, so we are going to lean on that. It is very popular here. We hope at a national level people will say, “if you want ot learn Tarot, go to the Sacred Paths Center”. We want to develop a stronger relationship with our teachers.
If you survive this month, and this two-year construction period, then what?
One Board member is of the opinion that our rent will be stable through this two-year construction period, until the first train rolls anyway. The landlord is likely tolerant to even leave this property empty, if necessary, awaiting that property value jump upon light rail completion. The SPC renting the property now is basically gravy for the landlord. We would have another two years to make a name for ourselves, and have a strong retail presence. After that we can be prepared to move at that time or withstand a higher rent.
We are looking to be more specific as to what our service is. When you find a service need we will try to address that more directly. Say we find a revenue stream from suburban ‘New Agers’. We will try to cater our service to address that market. We will get them the services and rentals that they want. That will help keep the facility open for whatever “Pagans” need from the Center. A side effect may be, that the Center becomes, “less Pagan”, but there is nothing we can do about that.
Nationally, alliances are being forged between groups like Hindus, and Pagans. Is that something you would consider?
Absolutely, if they are being under served and we can serve them, we will. After all we are the Sacred ‘Path-s’ Center, not the Sacred ‘ Path’ Center. One of our board members is especially interested in Shinto, and it seems many interested in that path are coming forward. We may be able to serve Tibetans, if they don’t have a place. We are trying to serve nationwide, for those who want to memorialize and honor their ancestors and passed animal familiars. We want to serve that market. We want to get the word out, and we need the time to get the word out. That is what the Ancestor Shrine is all about.
What about securing more Members?
Well, it was said several years ago there are 10,000 Pagans in the Twin Cities area. If you look at that figure from a direct marketing perspective, 1% is a good response. With 129 members we are over that 1%. What that may mean is that we have tapped that market, we have our 1%, and that is the best we can do for Pagan involvement at the membership level. We have to go somewhere else. We have done what we intended to do, we have that market share as members, but now we need to do something else to keep the Center open for the other 99% of Pagans in the Twin Cities.
We want to put someone into the position of outreach, so we can go to the Hindus, or Tibetans, or the New Age community and say, “How can we serve you’? And be able to say, “We can give it to you. “
Is there a need for change in management style?
Our goal is to fix the problem, not to fix the blame. We recognize we have had some management problems, largely from people trying to do too many jobs at once. We have learned the hard way that there is not only ‘Pagan Standard Time’, but ‘Pagan Standard Speed’. We tend to move a little more slowly in the Pagan community. When we were told people were over worked, we did not act quickly enough to find people to split the job with. Some things got tangled. In the retail operation, in the rental of the space, and within the whole operation. We moved too slowly.
Tonight, we agreed that was a problem and that we could not let that happen again. We named the jobs that needed to be done, and then decided how those jobs should be managed. We are already looking for people to fill each one of the jobs. Our first step was to get a talented young lady to be our volunteer coordinator.
Has your analysis changed?
We were working from a membership model. A Pagan Community Center has been the dream of several Twin Cities groups, working for the past thirteen years. You would think if the idea of a Pagan Community Center, supported by members, was possible, it would have happened by now. Thirteen years is a long time. When Teisha (Center Executive Director) said , “We have a problem, we have to solve it”, we finally asked, “Are we even using the right model?”
The answer is NO. We have already gotten the members we are likely to get. Even with a tremendous response, say 500 members, it would be barely enough. We just can’t do it. We made the mistake thinking the members would support it. We learned you can’t support a Pagan Community Center just on membership, at least not without years of work to build it up. We just have a month. We need some big donations now, to get off the membership model as a primary source of income, and continue. Then we can get on to better retail, more targeted retail, better service to our teachers and students. Finding a community that needs what we have got, and then serving it clearly and directly.
Our deadline is midnight, July 30th, if we don’t have twelve thousand dollars, we will close the doors.
What will happen then, if you don’t have the whole amount?
The board has decided, if we have less than $12 thousand dollars, then we will decide. We will pay our outstanding bills, assess the situation, and if necessary, get out of that facility. We will decide, July 30th, when we know what the community has said to us.