It was my younger sister who originally introduced my twin and I to our witch store. “I found a crazy store today,” she texted. “It sells coyote bones and spell books, you guys will love it.”
And we did. Although we are not necessarily practicing witches in need of animal bones or a crystal supply, the store had a few of our favorite things. We found ourselves visiting every few months to stock up on handmade soap, tea, essential oils, and candles. Another reason we kept coming back was the owner herself. She was a transplant from Massachusetts (as are we) and we rooted for the same NFL team she roots for.
Around the end of February I was scrolling through Facebook and noticed some terrible news. Our witch store had fallen victim to a devastating fire. A few days later the extent of damage confirmed our worst fear. The roof above the store was almost completely gone, and much of the merchandise was damaged from smoke or water. The store would have to close and relocate, and the practicing witch community that met there for book readings, classes and other events no longer had a space to meet.
This is where my frustration where the owner comes in. She was renting the space her shop was in, and she did not have any insurance for her business. Although she felt that the owner of the building was negligent, she didn’t have any recourse or anyone to advocate on her behalf. Consequently, this left her no funds to easily re-locate her shop and re-open, leaving the community she had created essentially homeless.￼￼
In June the owner announced a new location had been found, and the store would be reopening soon. It tuned out the space she was referring to had not been secured before the announcement, and ultimately fell through. It’s been nine months since the fire, and it does not look like she will be reopening anytime soon. I have seen her selling in booths at different festivals and events, but the store remains closed.
This has had me thinking about what responsibility anyone who creates a community￼ has to maintain it for the people who join.￼ When we create something and ask for followers, whether it is a store or an instagram page, do we have an obligation to safeguard it?