Earth Rhythms: Musical Mecca, Global Marketplace and Community Hub
Dec 28, 2012 01:01AM
● By Lauressa Nelson
When Lisa Fairman bought Earth Rhythms from Mark Seaman in June 2011, she did not feel the need to make drastic changes. “I’m a drummer, and I frequented the store long before I thought about buying it,” she explains. “I’ve always felt that it was a magical place, and I want to keep the magic in it.”
Open since 1993, Earth Rhythms is celebrated for its impressive selection of global percussive instruments: Native American-style frame drums; African-rooted talking drums and djembes; tongue drums handmade by an American father-and-son team; and cuícas, cajóns, congas and bongos associated with Latin styles. More unusual specialty drums include the traditional Irish bodhráns and the damarus used in Buddhist and Hindu meditation. Singing bowls, both quartz crystal and seven metals, are spiritual-musical specialties, as well.
Yet, the large retail space is not limited to drums. If anything, Earth Rhythms could be considered a cross between a world imports shop, a spiritual gift store and a community meeting place, especially with the contributions Fairman has added. “I love spiritual and community-minded things,” she affirms. “I increased the presence of items and classes related to metaphysical, spiritual and personal development and added new ways to connect with the community.” Drum classes continue on a regular basis, and new workshops cover topics like nutrition, sound healing, chakras and meditation. Occasional children’s classes punctuate the shop’s busy calendar.
That type of thoughtful decision-making also goes into Fairman’s product selections. “I believe in intentionality in what I bring into the shop,” she says. “I really look over the products and screen them. I do fair trade through people that travel and work with the artisans directly. I also like to support female-owned businesses, such as the Lancaster-based soap company we use; I love the quality of their products, the intentions behind them and the way they run their business.”
Within its four rooms, Earth Rhythms offers items for personal and home adornment, including tapestries, deity statues and clothing, plus crystals and stones that can be wire-wrapped into jewelry while the shopper waits. “I also brought in more scented products, like perfume oils, soaps, lotions, incense and smudge,” notes Fairman, “along with more jewelry and local art.”
Shoppers will also find one-of-a-kind and vintage musical instruments and market pieces, such as masks, wind chimes, Tibetan bells and didgeridoos, made from wood, leather, metal or other natural materials. “I like the store to offer a warm welcome and give customers the feeling that they’re in a place where they can touch things and try them out before they make a purchase,” she comments.
Community outreach is essential to Fairman, a former corporate human resources manager. “My job was eliminated in 2009, but I saw it as an opportunity, because I had already started drumming and I wanted to link music with my other skills: conflict resolution, leadership and team-building,” she enthuses. “Now I do workshops that link these human resources issues with body movement, voice and drumming.”
Sometimes the outreach leads to additional philanthropic involvement, Fairman explains. “I teach drumming for the Boys & Girls Club; that led to a winter clothing drive for them. I consider it one of the major gifts of being a business owner that I can help promote or bring awareness to certain issues and encourage other people to help out, especially for causes close to my heart.”
The community that has formed around Earth Rhythms is larger than what Fairman is willing to take credit for. “I am consistently impressed by the people that come into the shop. Customers from all over the world come in and strike up a conversation and become friends,” she marvels.
One of Fairman’s final frontiers is to build a new online community. The store’s Facebook page is alive with photos of fun happenings, and a new website is being designed to offer audio and video samples of instruments, as well as an interactive calendar of workshops and classes and e-commerce through which people can purchase products and register and pay for classes.
Location: 641 Penn Ave., W. Reading. For more information, call 610-374-3730, email [email protected] or visit Earth Rhythms on Facebook.