Pagan Shopping in the Time of COVID

With many states putting restrictions on gatherings and businesses over the last few months, and the cancellation of many summer festivals, we decided to reach out to some Pagan businesses and find out what their experiences have been.

Shopping cart full of (apparently) giant rolls of toilet paper
Image courtesy of Pixabay

PBN News interviewed three Pagan business owners over the last few weeks, to find out how COVID was impacting their business.

Artes and Craft, in Hartford Michigan, is a brick and mortar store with a wide product range, many in-store services, and online shopping offerings. Owners Paul and Pat Barbary thought they’d be taking a break during the lockdowns in Michigan, but it’s been anything but calm and quiet.

“We closed the store on March 17 before Governor Whitmer initiated the Stay at Home order because of all the traffic we get from out of state as far as Missouri,” says Pat Barbary. Instead, they’ve added more of their in-store items to their website, lowered shipping costs, and added rewards for facebook followers and frequent customers. With these changes, they’ve kept their employee on payroll to keep orders shipping. Paul Barbary, also a skilled blacksmith, makes many of their athames and other ritual tools, and has kept busy with his forge too.

While they usually host rituals and classes in store, the Barbarys have moved them online via facebook – they had over 4000 views of their Spring Equinox ritual, giving them more reach than they would have had if the event was just in person. Their readers and healers are also offering virtual services.

Artes and Craft recently re-opened, but has strict mask and hand sanitizer policies, along with other social distancing and infection control protocols. They are still offering curbside pickup of orders too.

Jason Barna, of Phoenix Rising Apothecary, is in southern Maryland. Phoenix Rising Apothecary focuses on herbs, tinctures, and other natural products.

While they have a website, they also vend at many events. Barna reports that they’ve had 3 major events canceled thus far, with more being rescheduled, costing him a couple thousand dollars in sales thus far, plus the exposure of being at public events.

While that loss of income hurts, Barna says that they’ve seen a substantial increase in sales of herbs and tinctures traditionally used for respiratory infections and breathing difficulties. And their online sales – including in new online groups for virtual events that they might have otherwise attended in person – have been mixed, but promising.

InSpirit Centre, is located just outside of Toronto in Georgetown, Ontario. Owner Barbara Ford offers readings, holistic healing, paranormal consultations and house clearings and spiritual/pagan related workshops. She also offers crystals, jewelry, and the Seekers Oracle Deck, which she created. The center offers a metaphysical shop and a number of holistic services provided by Ford and others.

“Pre Covid, we had readings and healing sessions available 6 days a week, and workshops 2-4 times a week. We also participated in Psychic Expos across Ontario and ran an international metaphysical tour group. When Covid hit, all of this was stopped,” says Ford.

So far, 6 large events that the center usually attends as a vendor have been cancelled. They are expecting at least 3 more. Ford says they’d hoped to expand the business even more this year, and to participate in more medium sized events as both a vendor and an organizer, but those plans are on hold. They are expecting the provincial government to require all events to be cancelled through the end of the year.

Fines in Ontario were quite high ($100,000 Canadian, or about $73,000 US) for violating the stay home ordinances, so most brick and mortar stores complied. InSpirt was closed from March 15 to May 20. They reopened with shortened hours, no in-person services, and limited numbers of people allowed in the store at a time. For Ford, this has been key – connecting with customers is a big part of her business, and in person connections are important. The US/Canadian border is still shut down as of this writing, which is limiting tourist visitors, normally a staple for the shop.

Ford says that during their closure, readings were her only sales, but since reopening, she’s seen an increase in clearing mists and protection and clearing supplies. She finds many shoppers are stocking up on ritual supplies, in anticipation of a second prolonged shut down. She has been experimenting with Zoom classes, and plans to continue with that even after things are open normally because it allows her to reach people farther away.

While these shops are going to survive the quarantine rules in their various locations, not every shop will. It’s a good time to shop local, and if you can’t shop local, shop your favorite online store.

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