The Care & Keeping of Your Local Witch Store

Many of us are lucky enough to live near metaphysical, New Age, and Witch stores that cater happily and proudly to the Pagan Community. Hopefully if you live near one of those businesses, and assuming the owners are good folks, you patronize it. I strongly believe that Witch stores are vital to the health of our local communities. They function as “neutral” spaces and bring people together.

It’s very intimidating (and sometimes a little scary) to visit someone’s house for a class or ritual, but much easier to visit a recognized business where you probably already know a few people. Witch-stores serve as gathering spaces not just for classes and rituals, but for bookclubs, author meet and greets, and a dozen other things depending on the location. Witch-stores are also life changing. My first Witch-store, Triple Goddess Bookstore in Lansing Michigan, introduced me to a bigger Pagan world than what I would have otherwise experienced. (I think half of my books still smell like that store, twenty years later!)

Atlantis Bookstore in London England.  One of my favorites!
Atlantis Bookstore in London England. One of my favorites!

Almost nobody is getting rich from running a Witch-shop (there are a few exceptions though), and most shop owners keep their doors open out of a combination of love, service to their community, and wanting to eat dinner. (It is a business after all.) I’m not a huge fan of capitalism all the time either, but it’s the system we’ve got right now, and I’d much rather see people who support our community get my money than the alternative. And most shop owners are just like you and I. I have yet to meet one with a giant in-ground pool and a cool two million dollars in the bank.

It’s Cheaper Online, But . . . . I know that the book you want is much cheaper on Amazon, and that incense you’ve got your eye on is two dollars less there too, but the extra six dollars you are going to pay at your local shop are worth it. Does Amazon directly answer questions about that oil you are thinking about buying? Do they offer magickal advice?

Even more importantly, how much investment do giant online retailers have in Paganism? Are they actively sponsoring Pagan events, or are they just looking to make a quick buck? Remember, the online giants don’t have the overhead a traditional store has. The big-box store warehouse isn’t open to the pbulic, and it’s most likely getting all sorts of tax-breaks your Pagan shop owner will never get. If you want your local Witch store to stay in business you’ve got to buy more than a dollar’s worth of candles every two months.

Does this mean you should never buy a book online? Of course not, and we are only human after all. I work in a bookstore and I sometimes order books online, but I also buy books from other brick and mortar bookstores, and at festivals and workshops. We are all going to spread our dollars around, just make sure to spread some of them to places you care about!

Me at the Northern California Association of Independent Booksellers Event.
Me at the Northern California Association of Independent Booksellers Event.

Take Advantage of Their Services and Promote Them My local shop has paid classes and professional tarot readers (and more!), but they also have a lot of free events. I know that not all of us can drop twenty-five bucks on a candle magick class, and that’s OK. But by going to stuff when we can, using professional readers when we need that type of service, and just showing that we care, we can help our local stores stay in business.

One little thing that all of us can do is share events and classes via social media. And as I said before, a lot of author signings and book readings don’t cost a dime! Share that those authors are going to be around and get people into the local shops! A lot of people are so busy they don’t even realize what treasures our local Witch shops are. By sharing an event you are helping a business you care about and perhaps helping a fellow Pagan too.

(And the services provided at many Witch-shops, like tarot readings and doing astrological charts, really do pay the bills at a lot of spots. If you use such services make sure to write a review on Yelp and say nice things about the person who provided the reading. Most professionals are professionals for a reason; they are really freaking good at what they do, so don’t be afraid to patronize them.)

It’s Still a Business A lot of our friends work in metaphysical shops, and the vibes in many of the stores we patronize are so positive that it feels great just to “hang out” there for awhile. Most shop owners are happy with people just visiting too, but visiting does not keep a store in business. Also, it is a business, and while it seems like a great idea to hang out at the Leaky Cauldron for two or three hours, you might be distracting someone from doing their job, and even worse, might scare away a potential customer.

A Witch-shop is just that, a shop. It’s not a living room, and the awesome person behind the counter most likely loves dispensing free advice, but that advice is even more appreciated when it comes with a purchase. I have a lot of friends who work in and manage stores, and they LOVE what they do, but at the end of the day it’s still a job. It’s awesome to feel so comfortable in a place that you want to be there for hours on end, just make sure you aren’t overstaying your welcome.

Provide Feedback! Is your local store stocking the wrong books and supplies? Let them know in a respectful and constructive manner! Most places want to be the best they can be, and they can only get their with your support, encouragement, and feedback.

And yes, not every store owner is a great person. When that’s the case the easiest thing to do is to make that abundantly clear with your wallet!

Be nice, be respectful, and spend a few bucks, and your local Witch store should be around for the long haul!

(And my feelings for Pagan owned things extends beyond just Witch stores too! Support Pagan blogs, like the Wild Hunt, festivals, Etsy stores, and all the rest!)

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