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Nature Haven makes local business success crystal clear

Nature Haven is on Tanglewood Shopping Plaza, 6926 N. University Street. Photo by Anna Brandon.

While walking around one brightly lit local store, visitors may notice the case lining the wall and sculpted crystals in the middle. Some are shaped into animals, hearts, spheres and points (shaped like a pencil). In addition, they have a large variety of crystals that come from over 40 countries worldwide.

Nature Haven is a small shop on North University Street that sells crystals, rocks, jewelry, interior decor and more.

The owner of the shop, Jeff Nelson, has been located in Peoria for 15 years. His long journey of crystals began as a shark teeth show dealer.

“[Collecting shark teeth] was pretty exciting,” Nelson said. “It was kind of like Indiana Jones. It is very remote, trespassing and extremely dangerous. So, that was exciting, and three months later, I quit my job and tried to collect shark teeth. I ran out of money and food. One day, all I ate was an onion.”

Nelson’s passion for the stones would lead him to travel for his shows. At this time, he was living in Florida but wanted to open his own store.

Eventually, he came to Illinois and felt as though there were no shops only selling crystals. He opened his first shop at a mall in Pekin and gradually moved over to Peoria.

Nelson thought of the name Nature Haven to attract customers to the products in stock.

“When I opened the store, I was not sure it would work because back then, rocks were not super popular like they are now,” Nelson said. “If it did not work, I wanted to be able to sell something else, so ‘nature’ is a pretty wide category, and ‘haven’ also works with nature.”

Over the past few years, crystals had become more popular than when Nelson opened his store. But in the first five days of the opening, no customers came to visit.

“Crystals have become so popular because of their [physical] property, plus anyone can connect with crystals; it is not just for a certain group,” Nelson said.

Nelson said that they get a wide range of customers in regards to ages.

There are many uses for crystals. For example, amethyst is believed by some to help with balance, wisdom and purification. Amethysts are one crystal that often is bought by first-time users and is a reasonably popular stone. The store also offers different categories to have an easy start of learning crystals, from monthly crystal sets to a beginner guide set.

Nature Haven employees help customers get the information they need about crystals. Bayleigh Allen, one of the store’s employees, has worked at the shop for four years and has increased knowledge of the crystals through helping customers.

When she was younger, Allen started learning when her dad would bring her pieces of pyrite when he was done working. She enjoys fluorite and quartz as well.

“It is a lot of fun working here,” Allen said. “It is usually light-hearted, and people usually come in here because they want to shop here unlike any other retail job. It feels good because you can have bigger conversations with most of our customers, and it’s a deeper feeling.”

Nature Haven sells jewelry that most people can find that fits their geo needs. In their cases, they have dozens of rings of all sizes, including kids sizes. In addition, they have bracelets and necklaces that can fit anyone’s needs. Product prices range between five dollars up to thousands of dollars depending on the size and type of crystal.

Victoria Urbanczyk, a junior construction management major, shops at Nature Haven. She has owned crystals for more than three years. She recently found out about the store and enjoys the shop’s atmosphere, and has learned more about all the different crystals the shop provides.

“I looked at many other shops and stopped looking there because Nature Haven has a lot more provided crystals since it is just solely crystals while the other ones had more merchandise,” Urbanczyk said. “Nature Haven’s employees were beneficial in my presence because they helped me out a lot.”

“Just listen to what you need and get the right ones,” Nelson said. “Start small, then expand what you know.”

Check out their shop in-person at Tanglewood Shopping Plaza, 6926 N. University Street or online, where you can shop and find out more information about where the rocks are from.

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