Concord, CA

Aquarian Era Is More Than A New Age Shop, It’s Hope For The East Bay

Vince Martellacci

Aquarian Era, Concord’s own New Age Shop, began forming nine years before it opened. The dream came to life at the shop’s April 2018 opening, but the seeds were planted in 2009 when owner and founder Melvin Thompson, had the worst year of his life. Newly diagnosed with diabetes, he simultaneously found himself unemployed and hitting a personal low.

But now, in its fifth year, Aquarian Era is helping others reach new spiritual and personal heights, just like stumbling upon crystals took Melvin to a higher self over time. Walk into the shop when it opens at 11 AM on weekends and 12 PM on weekdays and one of his employees will be right there to help you.
Aquarian Era on the insideMelvin Thompson

Every time this writer goes in, I find myself lost in conversation with whoever is keeping shop. I go in for the gems, like orange calcite and tiger’s eye. I always run to the big round table where gems are labeled with names and the specific way they heal you. I always find exactly what I need, as if the universe leads me there at the right time. You can also explore incense, sound healing like singing bowls, and more.

Discovering The Power Of Positivity And Belief

Melvin’s story is not a story of lows. It’s a story of faith, rising above, and giving back. He believes he was attracting negative things in 2009 with negative thoughts. The keyword here is “believes.” Melvin began to see that what you believe becomes your reality. He muses that he once said offhandedly he’d be working at a specific business in a terrible job, and years later he was actually working there in that job. Once he stumbled upon crystals at a local flea market, he began to see how positivity can attract positivity. He doesn’t preach manifestation, but he makes it work for him and anyone who asks.

Definitely, the moment everything changed was the moment he decided everything would change. Melvin shares, “In 2009, I had an awakening.” Shortly after a documentary on the lost city of Atlantis opened his eyes to crystals, he came upon them at that flea market. Melvin was stirred, “When I saw the crystals for the first time in different shapes and sizes and everything, I was amazed. I just started buying crystals throughout the months and years, buying them, working with them, wearing [them as] jewelry and stuff like that.”

In 2011, Melvin began selling crystals at fairs and events. But he was still stuck in a day-to-day struggle to get by. He had reached a point where he knew he wanted more, and finally knew what “more” looked like,”I was selling shoes and purses out of the trunk of my car. I said, ‘you know what, I'm tired of this. I want to do something. I want to spread the love.’” He started thinking from a wide open perspective, asking himself what he would do, “If I had a choice to do anything I wanted to do. I said, `Let me open up a crystal shop because I'll be happy that I can talk to more like-minded people, without feeling all strange.’”

And whether you believe it or not, it happened. He willed it into existence: “Not even months later, everything started falling in place. I started meeting people from other countries that sold crystals, like people from Madagascar. And I went to the Tucson Gem Show for the first time in 2017.” That show was a big part of the story of Aquarian Era. Melvin tells us, “I bought a bunch of crystals. I didn't even have a building yet. I just bought a whole bunch because I said if I want the store, I'm going to have to get crystals.”

And once you’ve manifested by asking the universe and believing that it will give you the right answer, you have to put in the work: “So I went and got my business name and did everything that I needed to do to start a business. And then I went to go buy crystals and I said, ‘I'm going to put them in my crystal shop when I get it.’” It was only about a year from that moment until he was able to pull everything together to open Aquarian Era.

Staying Positive While The World Judges

Melvin’s more than okay with standing out and being different. Hailing from Richmond, CA and having spent a long time living in Pittsburg, CA (two of the most dangerous cities in the east bay area, at least according to residents), Melvin offers his brand of help, but doesn’t force it, because he feels it is a lot for people where he’s from to wrap their heads around. It’s different and radically new, which can be hard to adopt.

When he sees an opportunity, Melvin helps: “I used to give people crystals before I even knew about the energies and everything, how the healing properties [change things].” And they did change things. Melvin recounts that the people who received the crystals would, “come tell me something about what changed in their life, thanking me like, ‘Oh, I got off a drug and I was really in the hood.’” By that he means living the life of crime that’s both typical and stereotypical in areas with less opportunity and more poverty. Melvin is heartbroken to share that opportunity has dwindled even further since his areas shut down trade schools. With no vocation, he didn’t want to be caught in the struggle, or caught up in crime forever.

Melvin acknowledges that he appears strange both within his black community and to the larger, whiter population: “So I was a weirdo to them. [I was] different. It was strange because I was always wearing crystals, talking about crystals, talking about the law of attraction. I was always talking to people like that, being a spiritual gangster, or guru, in the hood.”

In Concord and whiter areas, he is always met with shock, first that he’s a business owner, and second that he owns the New Age Shop. “When they find out that I'm the owner, a lot of people turn their head sideways.” He says he frequently hears, “‘I wouldn't ever think that you would have a store.’ [They] don't even know me.” He says it happens all the time so if he ever took offense, he doesn’t any more. Melvin thinks of himself as “a being of light in a black skinsuit.”

But Melvin is kind enough to be vulnerable with us about what his life is really like as he deals with daily racism: “But it's hard. Just to go anywhere–the gas station, anywhere I go–I have to constantly remember I have this skin suit on.” He often responds to the knowledge that people are judging him based on melanin levels by being consciously friendly, and copy-and-pasting a big smile on his face: “I go the a mile extra, I have to make it look like I'm non-threatening.​​”

I guarantee you, he is not threatening. We talked for almost an hour and he is extremely warm, genuine, and open. He’s lived every version of struggle and success. When he gets down, he always finds his way back up. The man who will tell you that people where he came from will either “work at a fast food restaurant or work the streets” has found a different path after a life of searching.

And if the story of how he manifested Aquarian Era doesn’t convince you, try this story on for size. After a long stretch of bad days for sales, he started to worry he’d have to close up shop for good. Melvin caught himself and had a moment of faith and belief where he said he knew the shop would go on, and asked the universe. That day, he made 10 times as many sales as any day prior. And the shop is going strong since.

Go visit Aquarian Era at 2803 Main Ave Suite A, Concord, CA 94519 from 11 AM - 7 PM on Saturday, 11 AM - 6 PM on Sunday, and 12-6 PM on weekdays. Call them at (925) 270-3175.

Check out their website.

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I've covered stories of unknown immigrants from places like Cambodia, been an opinion editor and opinion blog writer, managed blogs for my own businesses & for other brands. I'm looking forward to getting back to more classical journalism.

Walnut Creek, CA

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