Book Review of Shadows: Drawing the Three of Coins by Terri Paajanen

Rating: 🔮🔮🔮🔮/5

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A guide book to opening an running a Pagan store. Learn from the author’s personal experience to see the pros and cons to running your own Pagan, New Age or Wiccan shop, and also get a good collection of potential wholesale suppliers too.” -From Amazon.ca

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-This post contains affiliate links.-

Owning my own witch shop has been a dream of mine for a long time. I’d actually guess that it’s many book-loving witches dream. All witchy fiction has a central hub of a witchcraft shop that teaches it’s teen stars how to conjure, and most adult witches on tv have their own store as a conveniently semi-mundane cover for their even witchier life. Last year I got that job, and although it didn’t live up to my expectations, I learned a lot about the business and became even more determined to have my own store.

I came across this book by chance and saw that it was written by a Canadian woman in fairly recent years and instantly bought the kindle version and read it at work haha. This book was so easy to read and follow and made a bunch of points I hadn’t thought of, while also validating some ideas I already had. It covered everything from choosing a name and a look, to how to deal with certain types of pagan-shop specific clientele, to listing actual wholesalers and suppliers.

My favourite thing about this book is that it’s full of wake-up calls for those looking to open and run a pagan store. Now that I work in this industry I’ve seen first hand how little you can rely on your local pagan community to keep you in business. I mentioned knowing local pagans in my job interview at my previous store because I had been a part of the community for a long time and assumed that they would be just as excited as I was about having a store in town. I barely saw anyone I knew, and when I did they had only come in to visit. This is also true on the store I work at now. In fact, unless we’re having events (not the 101 classes!) I barely see anyone who is recognizable in the pagan community – but I meet lots of people looking for community. Isn’t that sad? The book also pointed out that stereotypes don’t always sell – so if you want a store that’s archaic and dusty and dimly lit that’s ok, but it’s a real cliche that not everyone will dig. The idea that you have to appeal to people who are new or learning, or don’t live the “pagan lifestyle” was very much driven home all the way through the book, without saying you have to be a total sell out and I liked that. It never out-right judged anyone for wanting to run a store that follows the left-hand path, caters to satanic customers, or otherwise sells things that scare the average person on the street- but it did make it clear that that is incredibly niche and will scare away some business.

She also points out a lot of the legalities with owning a metaphysical store and talks about things like selling athames and checking your local laws about that – she even shares a story about a customer who grabbed one and just waved it around and I had to laugh because that’s such a Toronto thing and it made me feel like I was chatting with a friend, rather than reading a book. The whole book was comfortable and casual with this vibe like it was just someone you know sharing all of their trade secrets. This is also very important advice. If you plan to sell herbs you have to see if any are illegal. You have to put warning labels on anything anyone might reasonably think you ingest. That’s something not everyone thinks of.

The main problem I had with the book is how short it is, and how vague some of the information is. She said at the beginning that this was about the pagan side of the business and not the financial side, but I kind of would have liked some of that? How much should you spend on certain things? How do you get approved to sell and serve things like herbal tea – which is huge in metaphysical stores? Do you need any specific kind of insurance? At the end of the book I felt like a bunch of my questions had been answered, but I also had quite a few left. There’s also the matter of relevancy of the information. This book was originally written in 2005, when the CAD and USD were at about par. One of the suppliers she mentions a lot is AzureGreen – who has absolutely beautiful products that tons of people are familiar with – but is an American company. Many of the stores in my city order from AG very sparingly now, because with the exchange it’s just not very feasible. I was disappointed there weren’t more Canadian suppliers, to account for that. In the section on building a website I found it went about half way with describing how to build an online presence. In fact I would kill for a book like this that describes building an online presence from a pagan specific stand point – but I am obviously terribly dull haha. Buying and selling and marketing online changes so frequently that I’m not very surprised at some of it being out of date, but this is the information that was very vague or almost common sense. I would have liked some personal experience stories without how being pagan online works.

This book was so helpful, and I’m still so happy I found it. The wholesalers section in the back tipped me off to a few I didn’t know, and inspired me to make my own list. I now have a big list of wholesalers I love, divided by country of origin. I started thinking for real about the kind of store I want to open someday, and honestly – my idea totally changed. The store I would have opened before reading this book is so different from the store I want to open now. Right down to the colours, layout, and over-all vibe. If you’re planning on opening your own store someday, or you have a store and are looking for some insider tips on improving, I would absolutely grab a copy of Drawing the Three of Coins.

If you want to buy the book AND support the podcast, click this link to buy it from Amazon.ca!
Buy Drawing the Three of Coins by Terri Paajanen

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