Mayo drives business for downtown psychic
By Matt Russell
Debbie Phillips has worked as a psychic near Mayo Clinic in Rochester long enough to know one thing: Customers often want their visits kept secret.
For three years, the 30-something Louisiana native has run her business, Psychic Insights By Debbie, from a nondescript two-story building at 604 Second St. S.W. In a space whose decorations include candles, images of the Virgin Mary, and wizard figurines, Phillips uses tarot cards and other methods of divination to give responses to the pressing questions people have about their lives.
Phillips said that about 40 percent of her customers are either Mayo Clinic patients or their loved ones. Another 20 percent are Mayo employees, she said, while the rest are people who randomly wander in.
From Mayo patients and their loved ones, Phillips often hears concerns about treatments or how illnesses could affect jobs.
"Nine times out of 10, they don’t really want to know if they’re going to live or die," she said. "They just want to know how long their treatment is going to take and how long it’s going to take them to get better."
Phillips said she draws the line, however, at giving people medical advice.
"I tell them I’m not a doctor — you know, you have to be a physician," she said. "I tell them before they even get a reading that all the doctors there are good."
When Mayo workers ask work-related questions, Phillips said, it most often has to do with how to communicate with people in certain situations.
"I haven’t had any doctors or nurses coming and asking, ‘Am I doing the right treatment?’" she said.
Often, she says, people wander in looking for entertainment.
"The main three things are their work, their love life, and their health," Phillips said. "That’s what everyone comes in for."
Before she moved to her spot on Second Street, Phillips ran her business from her family’s former home on Marion Road in southeast Rochester.
Mayo Clinic drove much of her business then, as well, but she moved closer to downtown because people often complained about having to pay for a cab to get to her house, she said.
Business has been up about 50 percent in her new location, Phillips said, but she still hits slow spots.
"Sometimes the office is busy — one week straight, I don’t have time to eat," she said. "But other times, a week will go by and nobody walks by or nobody walks in."