OROVILLE – World of Gaia, an online business selling a large assortment of tumbled and specimen rocks, carved stone gifts in animal and heart shapes, rock hounding books, tumblers and related items, has opened for business at 1321 Main St. in Oroville.
Owned by husband and wife Cecilia Ray and Wes Westphal, World of Gaia has been open online and through their eBay store since 2005. The couple made the decision to move to Oroville from Arlington, Wash last October and decided a “brick and mortar” storefront would compliment their existing retail business. The same stones and minerals they’ve been selling online are available at their new store, along with gallery and craft items. The gallery includes animal prints by Jody Bergsma, rock paintings by Westphal, Tree Free Cards, handmade jewelry and a wide selection of jewelry making and crafts products. They plan on expanding the jewelry making supplies, as well as bringing in larger stone specimens and more tools for rockhounds.
Although they’ve been open since late last year, a grand opening is planned for April 28 with door prizes, in-store specials and refreshments.
Cecilia Ray, a graduate of Oroville High School, founded Vision Quest Educational Center and Bookstore in Everett, Wash. in 1995. There she sold a large variety of stones until she and her husband decided to sell the store in 2004. After it sold she started selling bulk packages of stones from around the world online under the name World of Gaia. The business was a natural because she has loved and collected stones since childhood.
Oroville seemed like the perfect place to bring and expand the business since she had family in the area, she explained.
“We have customers from around the world buying our products online,” said Westphal. “We’ve even had a customer in Australia buy stones that originated in his home country.”
The couple said the jewelry and crafts making supplies are provided for the artists and craftsmen in the area. The goal of the store is to draw a wide variety of people interested in the treasures of the Earth and to provide them with quality and unique items, the said. The name, “Gaia,” means “Mother Earth,” said Ray.
The couple are members of the Oroville Chamber of Commerce and the Omak Chief Joseph Rock and Mineral Club. They say they are looking forward to being involved in the community.
Ray has owned a business called Gems of Gaia since 1987. In addition, she founded an herb and incense business with her husband called Gaia’s World. Since then they sold that business which is now operating out of Georgia. Westphal has owed several business in the past, both in Oregon and Washington.
Ray has a lot of relatives in the area. Her mother, Eva Ray and sister, Brenda, both live in Oroville, and many cousins and their families live in the Okanogan area. The couple’s children live in Tacoma, Oregon and the Virgin Islands. They are also cat lovers and have two black male cats, Buddy and Shadow, who “keep them in line.”