ZERO

ZERO

Walk into the Wonderstone Gallery in Dunmore and you’re basically walking into the dream of owner/operator Beth Ann Zero. From crystals and incense to home décor and clothing, work from local artists, a mini coffee bar and even yoga classes, the shop on Dunmore corners offers a little something for everyone. Read on to learn more about the business and its owner.

Q: Why did you decide to open Wonderstone?

A: I took over the space that is now home to The Wonderstone Gallery nine years ago, in August of 2013, and opened for business on Nov. 3 of that year. The shop is located at Dunmore Corners, where the town’s two main streets (Drinker and Blakely) intersect, technically 100 N. Blakely St.

I’ve lived in Dunmore most of my life, since moving here with my family when I was 5 years old. I grew up a few blocks from my shop’s location, and now live just a few blocks away in the opposite direction.

If you look back at my work experience, you would never imagine I’d someday create something like The Wonderstone Gallery, but each job I’ve had taught me skills I use every day now. Sixteen years of grocery retail — cashier, customer service, placing orders, retail auditor, human resources, store manager — was followed by 14 years of 12 ½ hour swing shifts in a paper mill, which built up stamina, if nothing else. The factory environment also fed the desire for something more meaningful.

Q: How has the shop grown/changed/evolved since you first opened?

A: The Wonderstone began as an actual dream I had during my swing shift factory days/nights. I was already developing a strong interest in the metaphysical, mostly because of memorable but unexplained experiences throughout my life. That, coupled with a long struggle with depression, led me to search for alternatives to the path I was following.

In my dream, The Wonderstone was a place for all spiritual paths to come together to learn from each other, in addition to offering for sale all of my favorite things — the “positive energy tools” I use to get myself through this life: crystals, incense, candles, smudging sage, etc.

Q: What has been the biggest challenge of being a small business owner? What’s the best part?

A: My biggest challenges have changed over time.

At first, I had to figure out how to make the metaphysical offerings combine with items the “mainstream” shopper would want. I had to create a balance with unique gift ideas so I could offer something for almost everyone. From there, I created the opportunity to educate on the new-agey items. There was no model for me to follow, so I really had to wing it, with only a dream as reference.

The second challenge was gaining name recognition — figuring out where and how to advertise. To this day, most of my business has grown through word of mouth, but The Wonderstone has gone from “what’s that?” to “oh, I’ve always wanted to go there,” to “my bracelets came from there!” There are still new people stopping in every day.

The third challenge was COVID-19, of course. Ten weeks of shop closure, uncertainty, supply chain issues, reworking the entire business plan and physical flow of the shop itself for the health of my customers. It took a lot of creativity, resolve, resilience and faith. For example, before COVID, we had 15 yoga classes in our studio per week. Two years out and we’re still only offering six. I used to feature the work of local artists in our studio, but with fewer classes and limited attendance, the artists’ work wouldn’t get the exposure they did before.

Thankfully, once non-essential businesses were able to reopen, there was a community push to shop local. The support I received from my regular customers and those I gained through social media during the closure was humbling, and I will always be grateful.

Q: How has Dunmore grown and changed since you first opened Wonderstone?

A: Dunmore is a fairly unique small town, home to longtime staples like The Dunmore Candy Kitchen and Doma’s Italian specialty shop, and newer businesses like Nibbles & Bits, Cara Mia’s Deli and The Wonderstone. Maybe It’s just hometown pride that makes me feel like we’re different, but I have driven through many small towns with a lot more empty storefronts.

While shoveling snow on a blistery winter day, I glanced up Drinker Street and saw two other women clearing the sidewalks in front of their businesses, and it hit me — a majority of the businesses on this street are owned by women! This would have been unheard of over a century ago, which is when most of these buildings were constructed. And now another woman is joining us with the opening of Pandarella’s, a breakfast/lunch eatery.

There are a couple empty storefronts available — I would love to see them filled with another person’s “dream come true.”

Q: When you’re not busy with the shop, what do you like to do?

A: During downtime in the shop you might find me knitting clothing that I sell.

But it honestly has taken nearly nine years for me to finally try having a life beyond the ‘Stone. I’m mom to two and grandma to four, and I want to start enjoying more time with them. I have a tiny slice of land on a lake outside of Honesdale. My family had a cottage there when I was a kid, and it’s my favorite place to unwind and ground myself. For now, it’s just a place where I like to camp a few times throughout the summer. I dream of having a cabin there again, where my family can create more memories together.

That’s my next manifestation (wink-wink).

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