Into the Mystic
Mar 22, 2018 02:00PM
By Lindsay Wilson
It’s a golden time for New Age shops in Omaha.
Local stalwart The Next Millennium has operated for 20-plus years, and there have been a few others, such as New Realities, which closed when their lease expired in 2012. But recently, the crystal pendulum has swung, and Omaha’s seen a boom of New Age/metaphysical/spiritual stores open their doors. Local shop owners in the niche say the spurt is a direct result of consumer demand.
“Between online and in-store sales, it’s been more than we were expecting,” says Kelli Miller, co-owner of Awakenings, a New Age store that opened in October 2017.
The professional psychic medium had an office in Elkhorn for about three years. One person asked to buy Miller’s homemade bath salts, which turned into another person asking to buy them, then another. The product requests gradually increased—some selenite (crystal) here, a Himalayan salt lamp there—ultimately leading Miller and fiancé Eric Abts to partner and open a full-fledged shop offering wares, workshops, and readings.
“It started very small, very organic…and slowly evolved into me growing out of that space and us opening Awakenings,” says Miller.
“New Age” is an umbrella term describing a range of alternative approaches to traditional Western culture and spirituality, and Miller says it’s a good descriptor for Awakenings.
“I like the term ‘New Age’ [for our shop] because we’re not necessarily metaphysical,” she says. “Metaphysical encompasses more Wiccan, Pagan, conjuring…We don’t do that, because we don’t fully understand it.”
Miller says a big focus at Awakenings is educating clients about the various tools and traditions they sell.
“We want people to understand what they’re buying and the point of them buying it; how various pendulums, rocks, stones, and candles can help us enhance our own intuitive abilities or spiritual connection. If people have questions, we have answers,” says Miller.
Miller believes more people are beginning to expand their personal spiritual journeys.
“With all the chaos in the world, it seems like people are going inward and really trying to figure out who they are and their connection to god-source energy,” says Miller. “That’s one of the main reasons I became a psychic medium, because I saw so many people in need of that connection—and that’s the point of opening the store, helping people out.”
That desire for connection is one reason why Alex Fernandez defines Hearthside Candles and Curios as “New Age/metaphysical.”
“We have a little something for everyone—Wiccans, Pagans, saint medals, angel items—our slogan is ‘Your friendly neighborhood magic shop,’” says Fernandez.
Fernandez, along with co-owners Kim Hinnenkamp and Chris Dishaw, opened Hearthside in October 2016 as a space to sell the owners’ handmade products and other handcrafted goods, but also to address a growing demand.
“There’s a lot more acceptance these days, so more people are aware of, and seeking out, alternate spiritualities,” says Fernandez.
Fernandez says another major focus for Hearthside is community.
“In addition to wanting a store to feature our products, we opened on the tenet of community—being a place where anybody can walk in the door, it doesn't matter where else they shop or who they’re friends with, everybody is welcomed, extended a hand, and given a chance to feel comfortable,” he says.
In addition to an array of paid classes and free meetups, Hearthside hosted its first Heartland Witches Gala, an event benefitting Heartland Family Service, in October 2017.
Nicki McDermott, owner of The Conjure Shop, opened her store in June 2014 after a decade working at Next Millennium. Omaha has a tight-knit New Age community, so it was a big leap, but one she’s pleased she made.
McDermott likes the increase of options for customers. She also notes that she is always happy to refer folks to Next Millennium for items she doesn’t carry.
McDermott says The Conjure Shop technically qualifies as a New Age store, and she carries items like stones, crystals, incense, and chakra-related merchandise. She also sells her popular Mama Izzy’s Hoodoo line of oils and candles at The Conjure Shop, and customers trek to her store to buy them.
McDermott sees the shop as more of a spiritual store.
“Mainly what I wanted was to provide a place for people on all types of paths of spirituality and religion to be able to get what that they need,” she says. “People want to come to a place where they won’t be thought of as a weirdo and [The Conjure Shop] provides that.”
The Conjure Shop hosts events like Coffee and Conjure, a monthly meetup where community members gather in fellowship and explore various topics. Every September, McDermott hosts Conjure Fest, a daylong festival with readers, vendors, food, and blues music. New this year, McDermott will launch an Omaha Witches Ball, called Vampire Masquerade, on Oct. 6 at The Pella at Blackstone. Proceeds will go toward supporting children’s leukemia research. She says the Omaha Witches Ball will be an annual event with a new theme each year.
The Conjure Shop has a reader available nearly every day and hosts several classes each month. McDermott also does by-appointment cleanses and consults.
“It’s like a therapist with a little extra oomph,” she says. “The most important thing is that people actually feel like they have some control in what’s going on and don’t feel so helpless about issues in their lives.”
And now, people in Omaha have at least four places to find a therapist with extra oomph.
This article was printed in the February/March 2018 edition of B2B.