Shops and Businesses
The visitor to this site may at first wonder why shops and businesses are included. Surely these are commercial activities and have nothing to do with the spiritual energy of Glastonbury?
However, much of Glastonbury’s popularity can be said to be being achieved through the plethora of goods and services offered all year around and there has been a growing awareness and interest in that fact that Glastonbury is economically faring better than many other small Somerset towns. John Brunsden MBE, writes in his personal history of Glastonbury, "When in later years recession hit and factories closed, and firms moved to Street, shops stood vacant in the town, and the only people prepared to take them on were tourist-orientated alternatives. Without them the town could well have been boarded up. Willem Koppejan and Helene Koppejan injected considerable capital into Glastonbury property, notably in the creation of The Glastonbury Experience, a courtyard trading haven from the High Street then dominated by traffic. Local traditional residents often resent this change and the absence of their type of shops selling their everyday requirements."
'New Age' Goods
Many of the shops and businesses supply what is misleading described as ‘New Age’ goods. However, much of the wares and services on offer can be seen to include divination, healing, astrology, magic, communication with otherworldly beings and a lot of other practices that have much in common with many of the oldest forms of religion. In Glastonbury, shops and businesses can be seen as offering items that can be integrated into practical spiritual life, and rather than being impediments, they can be regarded as being intrinsic to the success of the spiritual search.
Consumerism at Pilgrimage Sites
Every pilgrimage site, finds that the true cost of the services they are delivering to pilgrims is not fully met by what the pilgrims are able to pay. Therefore, they have to generate income from some other activity to meet their costs. Without exception, they have shops and many of them are making products to sell in these shops, whether these are books, candles, essences, artefacts or wines and liquors.
The wealth is generated by selling products to customers, including conventional people, who have the money to buy them. This income is used to support the purely spiritual activities. The same applies in Glastonbury – the so-called ‘alternative’ shops are generating cash, which is being used to support spiritual activities. One example is such as The Glastonbury Experience where all the ground floor shops are generating cash and paying rents enabling the charity which owns this complex of shops, The Glastonbury Trust, to support the not-for-profit activities occupying some of its premises.
There is a wide range of specialised alternative shops in the High Street and also shops in Chalice Well and Glastonbury Abbey, most of which are generating funds to support their more spiritual activities and can be seen as vital contributors to the health of esoteric Glastonbury.