Fortuneteller Sees Bright Prospects In Hard Times

Even in bad economic times, some people are finding their businesses are doing well. That's true for Alexandra Chauran of Renton, Wash. She is a second-generation fortuneteller. She tells Ari Shapiro she's even been able to increase her rates.

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ARI SHAPIRO, host:

And stories like the one we just heard can sometimes leave the impression that nothing positive is happening in American business. Well, in fact, some people are finding their business is doing better now than ever before. One of those is Alexandra Chauran of Renton, Washington. Chauran is a second-generation fortune teller. She works at parties and she has individual clients too. It's a full time job, reading tarot cards, tea leaves and crystal balls. She works online or face to face. And Chauran says her business is up.

Ms. ALEXANDRA CHAURAN (Fortune Teller): I've been able to raise my rates from $2.22 a minute to $4.99 a minute.

SHAPIRO: More than doubling.

Ms. CHAURAN: Yeah, and when I did that I was just kind of going with it and seeing what would happen, and to my delight and surprise a lot of clients actually added themselves to my work, and that was wonderful. I've also just this year started social networking. And so I looked at the numbers in my social networks, and so my Facebook has over 300 friends. My Twitter has over 250.

SHAPIRO: And so that may or may not translate to paying customers, but hopefully at least some of them would become clients eventually.

Ms. CHAURAN: Well, actually I use it mainly as a client retention tool rather than advertising.

SHAPIRO: Since the economy has started getting worse, are you seeing certain themes pop up in you clients' conversations?

Ms. CHAURAN: Absolutely, I've noticed my client base that includes realtors has gone up significantly. So often I will have realtors that will call every day and say, well, I have this client, is this a good fit for this house? And I'll do a reading on that. And these days I've seen a lot more questions about real estate, even from people who are not realtors.

SHAPIRO: When people come to you having been laid off, do you ever feel like they're seeking a sense of hope that you can't provide them?

Ms. CHAURAN: I think that it's a good sign when people come to me. A lot of people ask if the people who comes to me are weak sort of people who are desperately in need of help, and I think that though there are certain clients they come to me in desperation at first. I think that the kind of people who are steady clients of mine, they are more into that sense of empowerment and that sense that they can change their own lives and their own future.

SHAPIRO: And so if someone comes to you and says, will I have a job within a year, do you feel comfortable saying maybe not?

Ms. CHAURAN: Well, I feel comfortable guiding them. I've kind learned throughout the business some ways to give people a positive outlook instead of sort of shutting them down. Because it's easy to feel like the world is against me, I don't have any power; it's all external things are happening to me. But I think when you realize that there are so many options open to you, I mean there's a lot to be thankful for and a lot to look forward to.

SHAPIRO: Alexandra Chauran is a fortune teller in Washington State.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

We've been talking with other people who are doing well in a bad economy and we'd like your help to find more. If you know a business that's become more successful recently - if you do, send the details to us at MORNING EDITION by going to npr.org. Click on Contact Us.

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