Casting a spell on Hamilton
Photo C/O Katie Benfey
A year ago, a magical supply shop filled to the brim with tarot cards, spell supplies and a general sense of wonder was born. The Witch’s Fix (6 John St. N.) is a small slice of the arcane set against the backdrop of John Street. The inside of the shop is cozy and inviting, with fairy lights dotting exposed-brick walls, and every table piled high with unexpected curios. A small room at the back hosts tarot, oracle and tea leaf readings, for those interested in seeing into their future.
The shop is run entirely by the owner, Lauren Campbell. For the past year, Campbell has been challenging the culture around magic and witchcraft.
“I love traditional witchy shops, but I also go into them, sometimes I feel a little bit overwhelmed or I feel silly asking questions. I feel like there's a lot of places that there's just a sense that you already need to know your stuff before you go in. I really wanted to create a space that was more encouraging to people just starting out, and fun and I want people to . . . ask questions and be curious and feel a little bit childlike. And really, it was just about creating an accessible, safe space to come explore the unknown,” said Campbell.
Campbell says that her store is popular with students; they frequently visit the shop to spend some time with their friends. Many of them come in search of information and guidance on their future and the choices they should make while they’re away from home. Campbell says that she didn’t know what to expect when she opened the shop.
“I didn't do all the things you're supposed to do when you open a business because I was just following my gut, and it could have easily been a total failure … It was sort of like that Field of Dreams ‘If you build it, they will come’ thing. All these people came out of the woodwork that were so enthusiastic about it. And, you know, it's now as much a part of them as it is me, and it's just become so much bigger than I thought it was going to be,” said Campbell.
Hamilton has an ever-increasing number of small, independent businesses. James Street, Locke Street and Ottawa Street are well-known destinations for local shopping. However, with rent in the city on the rise, it can be difficult for small businesses to stay open. For example, art galleries are struggling to keep their doors open on James Street. Stores are opening and closing all the time, and even the iconic Hamilton favourite O’s Clothes, a store that has been on James for 8 years, has had to close its doors.
“We’re lucky in Hamilton that so many people in the community are committed to shopping local, and I’ve been fortunate to experience a warm welcoming from customers who are eager to support my shop. I definitely worry about when the time comes to renew my lease, as with so much development happening downtown so quickly, rent is bound to go up. I’m hoping it’s a manageable number, but if it isn’t, I’ll have to figure out what will become of my business at that time,” said Campbell.
As popular and successful as The Witch’s Fix is, there is always a chance that rent will rise too high to continue running the store. However, Campbell remains optimistic, and is looking forward to what the next year has in store.
“It’s disheartening to see other small business owners closing their doors as a result of high rent, but unless you own your own commercial building, it’s always a possibility that lingers over the horizon. I don’t think people realize how much product you have to sell, as a retail store, to simply break even each month. It can be challenging, but so far I’ve been enjoying the process of learning how to run a business,” said Campbell.
Campbell has plans to continue expanding the number of workshops and events that she offers, allowing even more people to become involved with the shop.
The Witch’s Fix is a shining example of how a business that has stayed strong despite the odds. The shop is a cozy, welcoming meeting place that’s open to everyone, regardless of their level of experience. Whatever is in store for the store, it’s sure to be magical.