All Beliefs are Welcome Here!
What do you look for in a metaphysical/new age shop? Is it about the variety of products, classes, tarot readers, knowledgeable staff, something else?
I am finishing up my master's degree in business administration. My goal going forward is to open a metaphysical shop. I have been working on my business plan for the past few years in school and it is pretty thorough so far but I would like to hear from others what they look for in a local pagan shop so I can make any additions before I submit it for my final project.
Fortune telling is allowed in the area. which is one of the reasons I chose the area. I do agree that Tarot readers bring in customers.
"there may be a law against fortune telling in your area;"
Snake oil statutes; to put it another way, Taro cards would be a hot item in any MFS.
Once you own your Taro deck, you essentially become your own card reader. Hence relief from the task of paying the age old fortune telling machine.
Another thing I have noticed is there are metaphysical fortune tellers or card readers, that have replaced convenience stores in multiplicity
For me I look for knowledgeable staff a person who can tell the difference between calcite and quartz . If possible locally grown herbs , I realize that one must make a profit but reasonable prices do get me to purchase more. Another good thing to have is a bulletin board announceing local pagan events if possible meeting rooms for study groups.
I definitely will be working to keep prices low without sacrificing quality. I plan to have at least one meeting room for classes or to be rented to groups. Hopefully more than one. A bulletin board is top on my list.
Tools, statues and jewelry bring people in; consumables keep them coming back.
Lots of candles. All the metaphysical shops in my area have the 7-day candles in various colors, some plain, and some with saints on them. Most of them offer free dressing for the candles - a bit of glitter and a blessing sprinkled into the candle.
Incense. Spell components: Parchment paper, special inks and quill pens, silk ribbon, bottles and pouches, essential oils, herbs (you can have a few, or an entire wall full of them; you need to know your local market to decide), extra-long matches (for lighting those 7-day candles), shells and stones.
Be cautious about carrying too much that's buyable on Amazon. You can't compete with Amazon's collection of books or tarot cards; a shop should have some of each, but those are impulse buys. However, you might sell tarot kits - a deck, cloth, and box together, maybe even with a nice little notebook to record readings. Other divination tools - pendulums, i ching coins, scrying bowls and crystal balls, runes. You have to decide about ouija boards; they're controversial.
Everyone loves ritual garb but it's very hard to keep a good range of colors and sizes in stock.
Classic altar tools: blade, wand, chalice, pentacle; bell, censer, cauldron, candle holders (for votives or tapers), offering dish. Seasonal altar cloths. Notebooks. Cords for belts. Possibly "mary jane" plain cloth shoes - people go out of their way to find robes and hats and then realize they're stuck in either tennis shoes or heels.
Definitely a bulletin board; encourage people to use the store as a social hub. Most of the stores I know offer classes of various types in the evening - the teachers set their own prices and pay a percentage to the store.
Staff that's knowledgeable and friendly and not creepy. Tarot readings, as mentioned; astrology charts & explanations by appointment.
A brick-and-mortar store can't compete with the internet (*koff* aliexpress *koff*) for prices, so it has to offer something people can't get online. That's curated information and services, and to some extent, ambiance.
I like the idea of Tarot Kits. I have a great supplier for pouches that can hold tarot cards in many colors and materials. Adding a journal to a tarot kit is an excellent idea. Thanks. I definitely want to have the store be a social gathering place. I will have a bulletin board and many free discussion group events as well as paid classes and workshops. I never considered shoes. I will certainly look into it.
You'll also want a website, even if it's just a static page that lists the hours it's open and gives an address. It can also have blog articles and mention upcoming events and current sales.
Shoes can include roll-up ballet slippers or the plain black cotton versions but either way, you'd have to be careful about how many and which sizes to get. But they do last a long time, and if you knew there was interest, you could stock up on them before public seasonal rituals. There's the option of convertible/infinity dresses, but you'd have to be careful about how many to stock. (Many people would prefer the long ones, but they'll be too long for short customers.) (I have three of these in different colors and I love them. Can confirm they may excellent public ritual dresses, but you need a belt with pouches to work as pockets with them.)
For me its the smell, the type of incense they burn. Next its the appearance, the arrangement and type of merchandise.
Books are troublesome. Years ago, they were a metaphysical shop's core; today, though, no physical shop can compete with Amazon, Abebooks, and ebay for selection. Someone might buy a book when they come to visit for other things, but very few people will plan their book-buying at a full-price store instead of using Amazon's discounts.
Used books, if those are available, are a viable market, especially out-of-print books that are hard to find. But unless someone involved in the store has the connections to keep a steady supply of those, they can't be a large part of the business.
Signed books are possible. Inviting Pagan authors to have book readings or hour-long workshop/classes, followed by book signings, could work. (Encourage self-published authors too; those will be books the customers haven't heard of. Find books being published on Kickstarter, and other nonstandard publishing venues.)
I love books, and I love browsing shops full of books... but bookstores are going out of business all over. They need to be in the store, but they won't be what carries it to success.
Knowledgeable staff, interesting and not otherwise easily obtained stock, good book selection, and what I'd like but usually can't get is a bit of atmosphere. The atmosphere isn't absolutely necessary, but it makes it worth visiting a shop rather than ordering online. The usual strip mall location with florescent lights and white ceiling tiles feels a bit off when looking for occult supplies.