Daytona Books & Metaphysics, in downtown Daytona Beach, is having its grand opening this Saturday. (N-J | Nigel Cook)

DAYTONA BEACH -- With a few minutes to spare before a recent salon appointment, Dawn Carleton decided to check out Daytona Books & Metaphysics, a new downtown business in the spot that housed Mandala Books for more than a decade.

"I'm not usually in this part of town," Carleton said, but she liked what she saw and will be back to further explore the shop, which has thousands of books, both new and used, as well as a wide selection of metaphysical goods.

"I'm one of those who think things come along for a reason," the Port Orange resident said.

So does store owner Richard "Mannie" Billig, who says his life after a trip to a South American country ultimately led him to open the store here.

Billig, 68, was so moved following his visit to Machu Picchu, Peru, he wrote a book titled "The Art of Falling in Love with Your Time on Earth."

Billig was 40 years old and a store manager for Montgomery Ward when he visited Peru as part of a group tour. He worked for the retailer for 18 years, including a four-year stint in Jacksonville. He was managing a store in Baltimore when he quit.

His described his life-altering trip and changed belief system as more akin to a spiritual awakening than a religious conversion.

"Peru gave me a focus to my life. I had this vision of myself on my deathbed and I was concerned that I had never really followed my dream of going into business. I could accept the fact if I tried and failed but not the idea of not trying," he said during a recent interview at the bookstore at 125 W. International Speedway Boulevard.

He moved his family back to Florida in 1984. During the next 24 years, he operated several rental stores in the Orlando area.

At some point, Billig said, he had another vision that told him it was time to move on. He sold his business and did nothing but relax for a couple of years.

Billig, who lives in Deltona, said a neighbor told him about the pending closure of Mandala Books last summer after more than 30 years downtown. He toured the two-story building and decided he liked it.

Daytona Books & Metaphysics opened to the public last month. A grand opening is slated for Saturday. It is open seven days a week, starting at 10 a.m., except Sundays when the doors open at noon.

Billig filled the store with books that Victor Newman, owner of Mandala's, was unable to sell before closing his doors. He also bought 10,000 books another entrepreneur had collected for a bookstore that never opened.

The bookstore and gift shop, which features jewelry, crystals and candy, occupy most of the first-floor showroom in the building, which has 13,700 square feet of space. The first floor has a crystal bed and aura video station. There also are a couple of classroom/meeting rooms available.

The second floor is home to more classrooms, which Billig hopes to fill with lectures on dreams, holistic healing, vegetarianism, psychic readings and spiritual counseling. The space also is available for use by churches looking for a place to hold services. The largest room will accommodate 100 people.

Jude VonHorsten manages the store. The reception, so far, has been great, VonHorsten said.

"Every person who comes in is changed. We are here to help people get in touch with themselves," she said.



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