It's too bad my friend didn't have this book. I see it all too often in the pagan community. Another wonderful little metaphysical shop is going out of business, its owners disillusioned or, to put it in the best possible spin, "older and wiser" now. Everybody wants to open their own little witch store and yet so few of these stores-including ones online-survive the first year. It's as if they decide on the spur of the moment to venture into the business of spirituality and discover the pitfalls too late. And that's what Terri Paajanen's DRAWING THE THREE OF COINS: HOW TO OPEN AND RUN A PAGAN STORE is all about-avoiding the pitfalls.
Of all the pagan stores I've visited in the past five years within 100 miles of my home, I can't name a single one that's still in business today that was in business a year ago. They weren't mobbed by the local fundamentalists or burned out of their homes. They just simply, quietly went out of business, often times with no more notice than an unexpected CLOSED sign on the front door. The warnings were usually there-in the stagnant or desperate energy inside the store, if not in the lack of turnover in stock or the empty shelves.
This latest note is an email from a friend back home, saying she's closing her store as of the first day of November and would I like to purchase some merchandise at 50% off. I've patronized her store every time I've been in her area. She had the best quality rose oil I've ever used! I'd noticed on my last two visits that she had broken all the rules I've read in Terri's new book. I'd mentioned the book to her, asking gently if she'd like to review it. Before I got the sentence out of my mouth, she stopped me.
"Oh, everybody thinks they can open and run a pagan store," she told me, sounding exasperated. "Everybody's got one online and it's defunct after six months because they get tired of updating it. And then people go out and try to open their own brick-and-mortar store like we did here and...well, you'd just be surprised at how many of my patrons tell me they plan to open up a store just like mine but down the street."
"A lot of them do," I reminded her. "You did." She'd been miffed about the quality of herbs in the store down the street and had opened her own store a month later. The other store lingered for another six months and then vanished. "You thought you could do better and you wanted to bring more pagan acquaintances into your life. And better herbs to your customers."
She agreed reluctantly. I asked again if she'd like to read DRAWING THE THREE OF COINS: HOW TO OPEN AND RUN A PAGAN STORE. I thought it might give her some helpful hints, especially since I was the only customer she'd had in the store all day and she was out of rose oil for my second visit in a row.
Instead, she rolled her eyes at me. "I don't need that! I mean, I've already opened a pagan store and I'm already running it. What would I need it for?"
I looked around the store at the dusty clutter, the $1200 hand-sculpted statues of Hecate that had been sitting in her store on consignment for nearly a year, the slightly skewed candles in the store window melting slowly in the glare of the summer sun. I glanced around her counters at the merchandise, all of which I recognized from Azure Green and priced significantly higher than in the Azure Green retail catalog. Surely there was something in Terri's book that she'd find beneficial.
"It's not just for new people," I told her. "Although it's a great resource. But it's got all kinds of tips and lists of vendors. And advice that she garnered after running her own pagan business for years."
My friend laughed. "You know, I could write a book like that, too. Just ask any pagan store owner, and they'll tell you how to open and run a pagan shop."
I would if I could find any pagan shops that have been around as long as Terri's. I'm not saying Terri's book would have saved my friend's store, but I do think it might have saved her a lot of trials and errors.