By Vicki Hogue-Davies
Dennis Tanjeloff, Astro Gallery’s president. Agate coasters are top sellers for this New York City store.
s rock store owners know, best gifts are not necessarily manmade. People enjoy buying gifts for others—and for themselves—that come naturally from the Earth. Here, rock store owners and managers from New York to California discuss which gifts are the most popular at their stores, and what is new in store for 2018.
Astro Gallery of Gems
New York City’s Astro Gallery sits across the street from the Empire State Building. With prices for items ranging from $10 to more than $1 million, the store has something for everyone—from gift buyers to serious collectors--in its 10,000-square-foot showroom.
“Right now the hottest gift items we can’t keep on the shelves are probably the gemstone bonsai trees,” said Dennis Tanjeloff, Astro Gallery president. “They are handmade in South America and the leaves of the trees are made of different gemstones. They come in three colors: amethyst, rose quartz and citrine. They come with metaphysical properties because of the minerals and have become so popular that literally between the website and here in the store, we can’t keep them in stock.”
What makes the trees such desirable gift items?
“They are very pretty and the price point is magnificent,” Tanjeloff says. “They come in different sizes, but basically for $59-$99 you take home a genuine amethyst or rose quartz tree.” Because of their decorative allure and their metaphysical properties and meanings, they are popping off the shelves, he adds.
In addition to the top-of-the-line trees, the store’s agate coasters sets are top sellers. The coasters, which are handcrafted in Brazil, feature agate cylinders wrapped in Amazonian wood. The sets include six coasters and come in different colors. “They have been extremely popular because everybody is using agate now in home décor, so the coasters blend in,” Tanjeloff says. “They are a great $79 or $59 gift.”
When it comes to new merchandise for 2018, Tanjeloff says that “we don’t know what Mother Nature is going to give us next time, but we are always looking for a new thing. We keep constant on what is out there and on trend.”
One stone that he believes is on trend is Mexican onyx. “We have Mexican onyx lamps in all different sizes,” he says. “They are made of solid onyx and glow inside. They are starting to really pick up in popularity, so I think this is going to be a big item for 2018.”
Family-owned and operated Agate Designs is located in historic Pioneer Square in Seattle, Wash. The 1,200-square-foot store carries a wide variety of rock and rock-related items. (The family’s background in the rock business goes back even farther, however. Owner Mark Kullberg’s father, who started the business, began selling rocks from his home in 1965.) With its extensive merchandise collection, Kullberg says the store didn’t find it necessary to bring in new items for 2018.“I don’t like to pat myself on the back, but if it is stone related we have it,” Kullberg said. “We have everything from raw specimens to jewelry.”
When it comes to top sellers, jewelry is a popular gift item. But Kullberg points out that people also look for more unique gifts. “We have a lot of mineral specimens that a lot of stores don’t carry,” he says. “We handpick them for our store and they sell well because they are unique and we have a lot of serious collectors [among our customers]. Our décor and collector pieces are popular. People buy them because they are pretty and make beautiful décor pieces for their homes.” Décor pieces that the store carries include jade bookends, agate geodes, fossil lanterns and more.
Gemstone bonsai trees are the hottest gift items for Astro Gallery. Handmade in South America, the leaves of the trees are made of gemstones.
Packard’s Stamp and Rock Shop
Across the country at Packard’s Stamp & Rock Shop in Virginia, top sellers include everything from Virginia minerals to dinosaur dung, said David Packard, owner. The 1,234-square-foot store, located east of Richmond in Midlothian, opened in 1962.
“Geodes are one of the most popular things we carry,” he said. “Colorful also sells. People like colorful minerals. We sell a lot of Virginia minerals. We sell minerals for collectors and metaphysical clients. Quartz and amethyst are also huge.”
A more unusual gift that is a popular seller at the store is fossilized dinosaur dung, or coprolite. “It is a favorite of people to gift to someone else,” Packard said. “It is a lot of fun for people. I tell them it is a great mother-in-law gift,” he laughed.
Packard noted that the store—which hosts scout tours and other tours—pretty much has it all when it comes to rocks and minerals. “Anytime there is a new mineral available we get it as soon as we can,” he said.
Star Woman Crystals
At Star Woman Crystals in Tempe, Ariz., amethyst, quartz and other healing stones are top sellers. The home-based business is open by appointment only and welcomes established clients during special sales events. Owner Shari Gackstatter said that approximately 20 percent of their sales are gift items. “Usually if someone is buying a gift they are looking for maybe a gemstone pendant or something along those lines,” she said.
Among its best-selling gift rock crystals are amethyst and rose quartz. “I would say that, along with clear quartz, these are the basic beginning crystals that people start with,” Gackstatter said. “With so many people searching for answers in the crazy world today, more and more people are starting to reach out to Mother Earth.”
What is new at Star Woman Crystals in this new year?
“Every time we walk out the door we are looking for new rocks,” Gackstatter said. “We look at newer items that our established vendors show us. And then you always find a new vendor that is standing next to a vendor you are going to. That is how we ended up carrying Australian opals. Basically we expand based on what our vendors bring in because we know we can trust them. We see hundreds of vendors throughout the year [at trade shows and events].”
Dynamic Energy Crystals
Quartz is also popular with customers of Dynamic Energy Crystals in Sausalito, Calif. “A lot of types of quartz sell well, especially clear quartz,” said Store Manager Elizabeth Furest. “Rose quartz is popular because it attracts and radiates unconditional love.
“People also really like our amethyst, which comes from Brazil and ranges in size. Selenite attracts energy near the full moon, then waxes and wanes, and is also popular. [Another stone people like is] black tourmaline because it protects against electromagnetic fields from computers and things. People also use it for travel and things like that.”
Furest noted that the store does not have plans to introduce new merchandise for 2018.