When the doors of Ginseng Yoga Studio opened nine years ago, there wasn’t much expectation that they would stay open. Up until Brad and Cindy Bennett moved in on May 2002, the building on the corner of 30th Street and Beech in San Diego’s historic South Park had been considered “jinxed” by many locals. Other than the hardware store, businesses seemed to move out almost as soon as they moved in. It was a revolving door of small business.
South Park, one of San Diego’s “elite” neighborhoods in the early 1900s, had sadly become run down and burdened with crime by the 1970s. By the time the Bennetts had purchased a home in South Park in early 2000 the neighborhood was seeing early signs of revitalization but the business district was still struggling.
The idea of opening a yoga studio came shortly after the birth of their daughter Bryn. Brad and Cindy had been looking for ways to calm their hectic work lives. They both enjoyed yoga as a way to find balance in their personal lives, so integrating yoga into their professional lives seemed like a perfect way to achieve the calm they had been seeking while bringing health and wellness to others. South Park hadn’t even been considered as a possible location for their new studio, until the day that Cindy happened to wander into that historic building on the corner after yet another business had vacated it. She walked into a large open room with a giant skylight and gazed up to the light streaming in with an enormous smile. What a perfect room for sun salutations!
Often when a new business moves in to a neighborhood, the business depends heavily on the community for survival. Every now and then, though, the community needs that business just as much as the business needs the community. From the beginning it was obvious that Ginseng Yoga was one of the businesses that the South Park community had been waiting for. Brad and Cindy were overwhelmed with the outpouring of gratitude. People were popping in to the studio just to thank them for being there and they received a steady flow of letters and cards welcoming them to the neighborhood. Within the first year, Ginseng was even nominated for an “Orchids & Onions” award for its contributions to the improvement of the South Park neighborhood.
Ginseng has been a catalyst that has helped launch the business district revitalization into full swing. The studio was attracting customers from all over San Diego, and the word of South Park’s charm started to spread. Months after Ginseng opened, Brad and Cindy’s good friend Joe Grant decided to take a chance on the next corner down from Ginseng and open a European-style market and café called Grant’s Marketplace. Now, almost nine years after the opening of Ginseng Yoga, the once struggling business district of South Park now boasts a continuously expanding network of businesses including restaurants, bars, and apparel stores.
How does one small business conquer a “cursed” corner and help fuel the revitalization of a community? The answer is obvious the moment you step foot inside the front door of Ginseng Yoga. There is an authenticity and sincere kindness that is expressed by every member of the Ginseng family. This creates an experience that customers are enthusiastic to share with friends and family, Yelp and Facebook. Cindy says that the most rewarding part of her business is when people step out of class and let out an enormous sigh. This sigh is what lets her know that Ginseng is serving a purpose, and bringing that calm that she and Brad had been seeking, to an entire community.