Gaelyn and I have been running a witch shoppe for the last few weeks for some friends of his who are in Europe on a buying trip. In my area there have been a couple of witch shoppes but they don't last long. I don't know if they are hounded by trad folks or there isn't enough business, but I have always like the notion of a metaphysical store where you can go in and buy things and people don't look at you sideways.
The shop is situated just outside of Colonial Williamsburg. It is a double shop space, that is it was a building with two shops downstairs and two apartments upstairs. When the couple bought the building, they opened up the two shops into one shop and made the two small apartments one large apartment.
The shop has book cases and shelves all along the walls, large display windows and tables in the center to display things. In the back is a reading room for their thousands of reference books that they do not sell but make available to the public as a library. They can sit there at the tables or in the comfortable chairs and do research. Then there is a work room/lunch room and they have a small stove and fridge and a work table. Both sides have loos.
They sell everything the witch would need. Wands of different woods and crystals are in large round cardboard containers. On slow days, I have decupaged the containers with witch symbols and wands and made them colorful. There are assorted jars of herbs that you can buy by the jar or the ounce, and I spend a lot of time just measuring the herbs for the customers. When I encounter an herb that I haven't seen or used before, I ask the customer how they use it. I have gained so much information from various trads and pratices that I have filled a steno pad, as I do take time to jot down the uses.
There are of course new and used books and I have spent time reading them and taking notes on them in the apartment above at night. Gaelyn has bought me a couple of boxes worth and I have sent them home and cannot wait to read them. I make candles in the back, some the usual kind and some are made custom for one person or other who needs a special candle for a ritual or spell.
One of the things I do like very much and wrote one of my good students about were the brooms. They are hand made and some have detailed carvings of the celtic and norse style, some African and South American. They are well made and you could actually use them for sweeping if a muggle happened to pop in and buy one, for they are truely the most beautiful brooms I have ever seen. Some of them have rosemary and lavender and lemon grass woven in with the broom straw on the brush. A few are plain and the buyers can carve them anyway they wish. One little muggle lady bought a broom and wand for her grandson who is simply waiting for his Hogwarts letter any day.
To tell the truth, though, many people who wander in think at first that the shop is just a hippy shop because we burn incense and play celtic and pan flute music. When they realize that they have spent upwards of an hour in a witch shop they are amazed. I had one lady ask me "Are you really a witch?" and I said yes and she said "You don't look like a witch!" and I told her that was because witches look like everyone else.
I like to perch on the high stool with the padded back and look out the window. Gaelyn and I wear khaki pants and white button down shirts, nothing at all conspicuous. I suppose that there are many people who recognize the shop as a witch shop. I like to watch the people as their eyes go over the front of the shop and then just notice me sitting there, reading or sewing.
You can always tell when a muggle comes in and they know what sort of shop it is. They are wary, a bit nervous, and they are all eyes. They are there for a purpose. Most women, if Gaelyn asks if he can help them, say that they are just looking. Then they spot me. "Can I help you?" I ask.
Usually it is about love. They want to know if love potions will work. Sometimes it is about the future and I read their cards for them, free of charge. I always steer muggles away from magikal solutions. I wouldn't want them to dabble and I wouldn't want them to give up on themselves and always seek a magikal solution for everything.
I haven't had any bad experiences, knock on wood, except for one of those smudgy little Jack T. Chick tracts that fundamentalists like to hand out left on one of the shelves. I just threw it away. No sense in making my visit a bad one.
Boxes come in everyday and they have to be inventoried and put up on the shelves. We got a case of hand sized tarot cards the other day and I bought a few decks to bring back to my little witches back home. We close at five and I go out with Gaelyn to dinner or I cook something upstairs.
We have enjoyed our stay and have learned a lot and worked hard. I think we will miss the shop when we return home.
Brightest Blessings Be
Aslinn and Gaelyn