I am going to state this as plainly as I can – we need booksellers. We need the local independents, the Mom and Pop stores, the funky used paperback vendors, and yes, even the local mega-chains. We need them because they are owned and run by people who live for books. You can walk into a bookstore with only a vague yearning for something that will fill a few hours on a plane and leave with the literary love of your life – courtesy of an informed and insightful bookseller.
This is particularly true of specialty bookstores – run by individuals who sacrifice free time and financial security in support of small publishers, unknown authors and under-appreciated genres. They run on enthusiasm and a keen insight into their customer base – and they deserve our support.
So in honor of these heroes of the literary world, Ankhie is offering up a series of Bookseller Profiles – a spot in the blogosphere for these frontline warriors to speak for themselves about the dangers and delights of a threatened profession.
To start things off, I asked Bernadette Montana, the proprietress of Brid’s Closet in Cornwall New York to write about a day in the life of a metaphysical bookstore owner. It’s a fantasy that I know a lot of us share. What could be better than running your own business, surrounded by esoteric books, magickal tools and mysterious oils, unguents and herbs? I think that Bernadette would tell you that nothing is better – which is part of why her shop is so successful and so well beloved by all members of the occult community. Read on, and enjoy A Day in the Life of Brid’s Closet!
From the minute I open the store, people are waiting for me. Not necessarily to buy product, but to talk. While this is going on, I am trying to answer maybe 300 emails a day. Half of these emails come from students of my intuitive tarot class or from the social networks that I belong to. The other half come from my coven mates, the pagan community, and others that I network with. After I TRY to do this, I read the tarot for my customers, sell product for the shop, book appointments for readings and make plans for any weddings or handfastings that I need to perform, and then prepare for evening classes. And while doing all this, our festival is being planned!
In regards to the store, I make my own magickal oils and herbal preparations. When someone comes in with a special need, I will do the research needed and then make what that person needs.There are also medicinal needs as well. Colds, stomach aches, cuts and headaches all need tending to! People come to me for blessings and counsel.
I network quite a bit. It’s the best way to get the word out for any business. It may not sound very magickal but I still run a small business and have to do what I can so the business can make the bills. Whether it is donating to the public library for raffles or filming a short clip with Monster TV. The networking aspect is the way any modern pagan can find other communities to practice with. We have the largest pagan Meetup group in Orange County NY. In doing this, it is vitally important that I keep in contact with many in the community! Hosting authors and musicians for our festival and ceremonies are an important part of why I network.
Brid’s Closet also holds many events for this large and growing community! We hold open Full Moon and Holiday celebrations that are open to all! The Ostara ritual had 46 people. Beltane is huge for us! This year Raven and Stephanie Grimassi will be at our festival. Last year we had Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone. I hold a festival that is getting a little bigger every year. The planning involved is enough to keep anyone up for a month! From stage building and logistics, to printing the brochure and determining the entertainment schedule, the Beltane festival is always on my mind. Planning is done on a daily basis as this festival is so big, that it takes approximately one year to plan. Once the festival is held, the next one is already in the works!
Tarot is a big part of what I do during the day. These sessions tend to be very deep. There are times when it turns into a counseling session rather than just a tarot reading. Learning how to deal with a person’s issues is essential. It can be a very emotional time for both the customer and myself. I try to be sensitive to their needs if they are sitting in front of me or on the phone or online.
Most evenings I teach classes. The topics vary from Wicca, herbs, oils, tarot, to those requested by the community. I also teach the tarot and write articles/interview elders, authors, and teachers for an online Wiccan College called Sacred Mists. With the intuitive tarot class, I grade homework and attend their online forums. Every Wednesday is coven night. The group here consists of the inner circle and a very large “outer” circle group. Finding a balance between the needs of the pagan community at large and the coven is something I work at every day. We also have many authors and teachers come to the store to do readings and workshops for us. Some of these names are Judika Illes, Isaac and Phaedra Bonewits, Raven & Stephanie Grimassi, Dorothy Morrison, Janet Farrar & Gavin Bone and Lilith Dorsey.
I guess I never really realized just how much goes on in this store! Actually, Brid’s Closet is not just a store. It’s a home, a spiritual meeting place, a church. A place for most to relax. I am blessed to have this place and blessed to love what I do.
Brid’s Closet is located in lovely Cornwall New York, and definitely worth a trip.
Bernadette can be contacted there or through: