Shops catering to the magical community use to be like rare unicorns – hard to find a good one and often expensive. But also often necessary for information, community, and finding hard to source products. Then the internet came. Now you can get almost anything through Amazon or the magic of Google. This diminishes the need for in person shops and the community. No longer must you travel to get spell candles or rare herbs. With a few clicks of a button and your credit card, it can be delivered to you. Which is awesome.
A lot of people reading this weren’t really consumers with purchasing power when the internet was in it’s infancy. Some of you may have never lived without the internet at all. That’s not me making a snide remark. I’m actually really happy about that. The internet is an amazing thing. I’m a huge fan.
A few months back there was a fuss about people using glamours in their image graphics. And that lead to some discussion on spells used in businesses. But the discussion was largely covered up by people clamoring about spells to counter said glamours. Now, the specifics of that event I won’t get into because there’s a lot more context about it hidden in there and none of it touches the point of this post.
People have always used spells in their shops and businesses. No, seriously, go back and read that again. People have always used spells in their shops and businesses. Always.
Twenty years ago, as a baby witch, I wandered into local witchy shops and there were spells to entice business, to encourage buys, to spend money, to bring in wealth, to protect, and to turn away thieves. When I was able to drive and expand my circle, I found more shops that did the same thing. And they’re fine. They’re rarely the sort of spells that will interfere with your own magic and they’re rarely going to make you buy something that you didn’t want or need. Most often, they’re kind of like that friend that eggs you on when you’re on the fence about buying something. They mean well (but they also want your money).
Some stores had aggressive spells. Store owners would curse thieves or turn away problematic clientele. Some even did spells to keep out people who weren’t witchy or of their own coven. Spells to curse or turn people against competitors, belittle those who don’t agree with them, curse troublesome customers, and a whole host of other nasty things. Usually though, these sorts of aggressive spells were the kind that annoyed and irked if you weren’t looking for them. Often going in those stores left you with a headache or buying something you didn’t want or need. Impulse buys were common and the spells are intrusive.
When the internet came, these spells were less obvious. No longer can you see the chicken feet tied behind the door but instead there’s spells taped to the back of the monitor or keyboard. Clever folks will lace invisible words in their images or in their website’s HTML. And that’s still OK. It’s no different than those witchy shop spells of before.
So here’s the moral gray zone right now. There’s a lot of spells you can use in your shops and stores that help your business but at what point do you say “hey, this isn’t cool?” And you, as a consumer, what kind of spells are you willing to accept and what spells aren’t you willing to deal with?
I’ll be blatantly honest here: I use spells to encourage people to buy things they want or need if they can afford it. I do spells to encourage people to look at my items (but not necessarily buy them) and I do spells to keep away potential problematic customers for both our sakes’. Oh, there’s a whole host of spells to bring money, wealth, prosperity, and so on too, but those aren’t directed at my clients specifically. They’re general.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m clever. I know plenty of ways to make customers buy things. But that’s not the kind of shop I want to run and that’s not the kind of witch I want to be.
So the TL;DR is this: witchy shop always have and always will use magic to draw in customers. It’s how those spells work and what their purpose is that’s important to consider here. Are these spells the kind to encourage you to spend your rent money or are they the kind to say “hey, maybe next week, OK?”