OK, I have to be a proud Papa today. This article was in the Western North Carolina Women publication. Some of what she is selling at her shop are items she bought on her visit to Batam and Yogyakarta in June.
Metaphysical shops are gathering places for metaphysically minded people. Raven and Crone in Asheville is no exception. On any given day, the people browsing the cards, considering incense, or ordering dried herbs will include people in the local magical community. There will also be a tarot card reader, a mini-gallery of art by local artists, and the expertise of the two owners, Lisa Svencicki and Kim Strobel.
A cup of perfectly blended herbal tea is available in the community room – a cup that can be had in exchange for a donation dropped in the basket nearby. New and used books line the bookshelves and some helpful herbal infusions are absorbing the sun’s heat over on the window sill.
Metaphysical shops come and go in this odd town, sometimes called a ‘mecca’ of New Age thought. But Raven and Crone already looks like it may have better longevity. Lisa and Kim have been planning a shop like this one for a very long time – fifteen years or more.
The location is excellent, for one thing, situated as it is on the busy artery of Merrimon Avenue. It has good visibility, as well as decent parking, both pluses in this competitive retail market. The two things that set it apart, however, are the stock and the genuine expertise of the owners, who are also the primary staff.
In a world of on-line purchasing, it is rare to find a bricks-and-mortar store with such a rich variety of merchandise. The focus is on tools and supplies for the magical practitioner and energy worker as well as those who practice one of the Earth-centered spiritualities.
I asked Kim and Lisa what brought them to this place in their lives and the answers from each were telling. “My whole life,” said Kim, after pausing for a moment. “My first job was in retail.” Lisa was tired of shopping online for what she needed for her personal practice. “And I wanted to have a place that treated Pagans with dignity. I’ve dreamed of this for years. It really is my dream come true.”
This highlights one of the other things that set this shop apart – the working knowledge of the owners. When customers stand at the check-out counter, they are faced with a wall of jars, each filled with a dried herb for either healing or magic. To the left are equally stocked shelves with lines of specially compounded oils, blended with specific properties. Posing a question is met with a thoughtful answer from a woman with plenty of field experience. Need an herb to help with sleeping? Looking for a special aromatherapy product to add calm to a hectic life? Lisa and Kim recommend blends and products for the customers’ particular needs.
They are steadily growing a ‘Raven and Crone’ line of locally crafted products with locally sourced materials, ranging from oils to seven-day candles.
The community room is important to both women. Readers who divine with cards or runes are scheduled in the room through many of the store’s open hours. These are some of Asheville’s most skilled readers and they use the room free of charge, building up their own clientele and bringing potential new customers into the store that opened in late summer of this year. The room also plays host to classes and workshops on topics of interest to Raven and Crone customers. There have been classes on sigils, on creating herbal tea blend, beginning astrology, and simple magic. New Moon celebrations often include a community drum circle with people of all ages participating.
Kim and Lisa also seem to be happy as they work, either behind the counter or in the work area creating new products. When asked what their favorite parts of running the shop are, Lisa replied with making tea and talking to the customers. Kim spread her hands in front of her as she replied. “All of it. Making the stuff, meeting the people, being here. It’s been a vision for a long time.”
She and Lisa had been talking about a store for years, plotting and planning how they’d do it when they finally could. When Lisa’s husband Michael retired, she felt the time was right, even if the economy still felt a little wobbly. Michael has been helping with creating display shelves and learning to be the house-husband at home.
When I asked them what their dreams were for the future of the new business, they both said the same thing – take it on the road. They want to vend at regional festivals, meeting new people and creating new products as the need and creativity arise. And they want the shop to be more than a place to buy things, to be a community hub and a learning tool for people who don’t understand Pagans and Pagan ways.
It is a witch shop where hard-to-find items may be handled and their uses discussed. Instead of waiting for an order from California, you can have a cup of tea and buy what you need. The people who make the handcrafted products that line the shelves often come in to deliver their goods during business hours, so you may get a chance to chat with that cool ‘tea lady’ from Panther Moon Tea Company, Sumitra D’Aragon, as I did a few weeks ago. She came through the door with a box filled with teas and tea accessories.
There are shelves of new and used books in the community room that may be browsed and purchased. And a cheerful basket of brightly colored drawstring bags welcome you as you enter the store and invite you to take one, if your birthday fits the current astrological sign.
“I love this store,” said Mark Dooley, visiting with his family from West Virginia, “a perfectly balanced blend of all things needful.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
For more information about Raven and Crone, like them on Facebook as ‘Raven and Crone’ and call the shop at 828.424-7868, or better yet, visit them at 555 Merrimon Avenue in north Asheville.