There have been several plot twists in the past three months. When I don’t know where to begin, the best way seems to be chronologically. This story starts 50 years ago. Bear with me. It will all make sense. This entry does contain a little salty language to express my frustrations.
1960s-70s- 612 Dundas Street is a convenience store owned by Harold and Margaret Beattie, my great grandparents. My mother lived in the apartment above for a while when she was a teenager. Harry would go down to the Western fair racetracks and bet on the horses. They were a part of the community.
1980s- Mark Emery (yes, that one) opens Mystic Book Shop a few doors down.
late 90s- Mystic Books is taken over by Jody Trevail. This is the same time I move a few blocks away. I walk by the store every day on my way to school.
early 00s- Mystic Books moves into 612 Dundas. Though I had been practicing magick since I was, well, as long as I can remember, I buy my very first magick book from Jody. I ask her advice on celebrating Yule. Over the years, we become friends. I buy many, many tarot decks from her. My daughter draws a picture of her cat that Jody proudly hangs. She has no room for me to read tarot, but she keeps my business cards on hand and gives them out regularly to those who are looking for a consult.
April 2018- Jody passes away suddenly. The store remains closed for several months. This is the first time in 40 years that there has been no Mystic Books in OEV.
June 5th- I have a dream about taking over Mystic Books. Jody’s spirit wants me to have it. But her family, including an older gentleman (who I assumed to be her father) stand in the way.
June 7th- I have a tarot gig at a local brewery and pub. One of the managers informs me that there is a regular group meeting there during that time and asks if it’s okay. I discover that the group is a networking group of which I have been a member of for a year. It’s a perfect fit. I read tarot and network with several people in between, including Ariel, who is managing a cooperative retail place across the road from Mystic Books. She informs me that the store is for sale, and the owner of the building is the manager of the tea shop next door. I know him from several tea leaf reading gigs that I had done there.
June 8th- I pop over to talk to the landlord, have a tour of the store.
June-July- I pop in 2-3 times a week talking to the land lord, keeping him updated. It all feels so meant to be. Everything is falling into place perfectly. I visualize myself behind the counter. I develop a business plan that is stellar. Jody was a little technophobic. It took me years to convince her to get a Facebook page, where she posted maybe 2-3 times a year. There was no website. She was frequently closed and it was hard to get into the store to shop because she was rarely opened it seemed. Jody was a pack rat, and the entire shop was brimming with stock. The back rooms and dirt floor basement are just full! My plan is to keep Jody’s legacy alive, but to expand. I had picked out a shelf that would be a shrine to her, where I would have battery operated candles, and people could come and pay respects. I would also have photos of my great grandparents, and their storefront. I was going to have online shopping, renovate the basement with my own money, read tarot on site, be open 40 hours a week, have classes and workshops, guest practitioners, and decorate to be warm and welcoming. I deeply felt that Jody was happy with this, and that my ancestors were behind me. I start telling a few people about my plans. Everyone is so excited for me. I hire two staff and an interior designer to help me.
July 5th- I’m viewing apartment in the area and find the perfect home. I pop in to the shop to finalize details. The landlord informs me that he has already rented the store to someone else. She has already paid, signed a lease, and has the keys. She is a semi-retired lady who wants to be open 3 or 4 days a week and dreams of being surrounded by books. She has zero magic experience, but because she has a masters degree, believes she can teach herself so that she can help clients. He said “it’s not personal, she just had a better business plan”. Um, what? My plan to have a practitioner space, workshops, classrooms, online shopping, while having two decades of experience in magick is an inferior business plan to “I just want to work 20 hours a week and be surrounded by books while learning magic from reading”? Are you fucking kidding me? My business plan is solid. Her business will sink within a few years, but she has retirement savings so it doesn’t matter. Not only that, but her lack of magic experience will get someone hurt! You can’t just dabble and teach yourself this stuff without rigorous discipline and practice, which I have been doing most of my life. Magick is my life! Tarot is my life! And she wants to be surrounded by books? In this day and age, when Payless Shoes and Toys ‘R Us are filing for bankruptcy, straight retail is not the way to go. Especially for books, when someone could just go on Amazon and get what they want. Opening up an independent book store with a focus on selling mostly new books is a terrible idea. You MUST diversify! I get this. But she has a better business plan? Puleese!
However, the dream is still alive. There are plenty of empty storefronts along that street, including the original storefront opened in the 80s. I have spoken to the retail collective about renting some space from them. I plan on approaching the new owner and asking her if she will part with the magick related stock and books. I can still open, possibly under the same name, just a few doors down. I know that the business will work, and be even more successful than it has for the past 40 years. Why? Because I am skilled and talented at what I do, because I am a hard worker, and because I am willing to adapt to the changing economy.
Essentially, in downsizing from my 4 bedroom house to a 1 bedroom apartment, I need a space to read tarot. And if I have a commercial rental space, I might as well have a retail space. And with having that space comes the opportunity for education and community.
I’m also not stuck in that area. I am moving anyways, and there are many places with apartments in the city. OEV has its challenges. In the 80s and 90s, the city funnelled the at risk/ homeless population into that area. Though there have been efforts and much progress to bring arts, activism, community and culture into the neighbourhood, there are still lingering issues, especially as the opioid and meth crises worsen. There’s no reason that I can’t make the shop work in other areas of the city- like Wortley Village (a progressive and funky area of the city). The owner of the only metaphysical shop in that area has burned a lot of bridges, and there’s certainly plenty of the right demographic in the area. It’s just a thought. At this point, there’s really not much keeping me in London. It’s like U2 said- “freedom is like having too many choices. All I know is that my gods and ancestors better have something epic in store for me after pulling this shit.