Crystallized vision

Kasey Valle

Photo by Meredith J. Cooper

After getting his geology degree at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Kasey Valle worked his way to California, eventually finding himself in Chico and deciding to set up shop here. He opened his online rock shop three years ago and it did well—well enough to go brick-and-mortar last month. His Geology Rocks! and Minerals store, at 835 Main St., features some stones that the 27-year-old found himself, but the majority of the inventory comes from trade shows. Eventually, he said, he’d like to hold events and collaborate with other entities such as schools, groups like local Boy Scouts and the Gateway Science Museum to expose more people to the wonders of the natural world. The store’s open Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Call (916) 717-8424 for more information.

Why Chico?

Chico’s nice. It’s low-key. It’s a little town and I can get to the middle of nowhere in any direction fairly easily, within a couple hours. So, that leaves a lot of room to find a lot of things. And that’s what I like to do.

What got you into geology?

I like rocks better than people. I like to be alone, out in nature, to explore. Geology gave me a chance to just nerd out and be in my work.

Who’s your target audience?

Anybody. Especially kids. I’m trying to create nerds. I feel like science, especially earth science, in schools just gets touched on really briefly. We live in a world that was created by geology. To get kids interested just by showing them a shiny rock, or by telling them the story of how a fossil was created, is really nice. That’s my goal, is just to get people to go outside and adventure and want to find things like crystals.

Getting outside seems to be getting lost to technology—but are the two mutually exclusive?

No. We can show the kids that they have technology but they also have this, and just encourage them to appreciate both. We definitely use them hand-in-hand here. Especially if we want to go exploring someplace that someone told us about, I pull out old maps and read old journals, then I look on my GPS to make sure it’s not private land. I speak with the BLM to make sure it’s OK to take what I take. Plus I program my phone and all my GPS locators to let me know where I am when I have no signal. So, technology is very useful. Once I’m out there, though, my phone’s in my pocket.

Any big plans for the store?

Honestly, I’m overwhelmed by what direction to go in first. I think we’ll slowly start to incorporate new events. Now I’m focused on adding more product, connecting with more jewelry artists and artists to get more of that kind of thing on display.