I’ll let you determine what “miracle” the once popular Miracle Video store at 19th and Haskell was promoting. But the new store that has taken its place also is in a business where the topic of miracles comes up. It is a religious supply store, but perhaps not the type of religion you are thinking of.
The store sells supplies for Wicca and other pagan religions. And it is not new at it, either. The store is the Village Witch, which previously was located in North Lawrence in a stone building a couple of doors down from Johnny’s Tavern. Owner Kerry Johnson said the store had been in the North Lawrence location for about 10 years. Pagan religion, it seems, is not a passing fad.
But what type of supplies do you need for it? I know in my religion two of the most important are a pillow to make the pew softer, or, conversely, a clock for the pastor. I’m not sure it is quite the same in the pagan religions. Johnson said the store sells a lot of candles and incense, which can be used in ceremonial rituals, including the casting of spells. Yes, spell casting is part of the religion, and Johnson said it makes sense if you think about it in the proper context.
“A spell is very much like a prayer,” said Johnson, who said she enjoys explaining the religion to people. “It is a petition to the gods to act in your favor. We bump it up a bit by burning incense.”
Other supplies sold at the store include books, tarot cards, statuettes of gods and goddesses, cauldrons and ritual knives. I’m not entirely versed in how the knives are used, but you shouldn’t assume the worst. As a reminder, some religions use staffs and rods as part of their rituals.
Johnson said not everyone who comes into the store is a practicing pagan. She said the store has a large jewelry selection, which brings in many nonpagans, as does its incense inventory. With the move, Johnson has expanded by bringing in daughter-in-law Ashlie Christianson, who operates the Green Goddess. That business sells a variety of herbal products, including homemade soaps, essential oils, bath and body products, herbal teas and other such items.
Johnson said she decided to move the business to 19th and Haskell after the other woman she was sharing the shop with in North Lawrence decided to go in a different direction. Plus, the new location is convenient for her family’s other business. Her family operates the Cosmic Cafe that also is located in the 19th and Haskell shopping center.
Johnson said she is confident her customers will find her in the new location. She said customers come from throughout the region. Although Kansas City has several pagan-based religious stores, she said many Kansas City residents frequently come to Lawrence to check out her shop. Johnson said there are fewer pagan-based stores west of Lawrence, so Lawrence ends up being a shopping destination for those folks.
As for the future, Johnson said the number of pagans in Lawrence seems to be on the rise. In particular, the pagan branch known as Wicca is a fast-growing religion. Johnson has been part of the Wicca religion for many years and now is a high priestess of one of the covens that meet in Lawrence.
Yes, Wicca does involves several pieces of terminology associated with witches, as the store’s name implies. Practitioners are commonly called witches. But Johnson said there are quite a few misunderstandings non-Wiccans have about the religion.
Probably the biggest is an assumption that Wiccans are Satan worshippers. Johnson said the Wiccan religion actually doesn’t believe in a Satan figure.
“If you did something bad, it is on you, not on Satan,” she said.
The religion does believe in Karma. Female figures play a central role in the religion, and practitioners of Wicca generally don’t proselytize, believing that religion is a very personal decision.
Johnson said Lawrence has been a great location for the store because the community is open-minded about ideas outside the mainstream.
“We’ve never had a problem with people being respectful in Lawrence,” Johnson said.
UPDATE: In reporting this story I’ve learned that Johnson’s old business partner has a similar venture operating in North Lawrence. Kacey Carlson is operating Third Eye Sadie’s at 311 N Second Street.
The store also sells supplies for Wicca and pagan religions. But Carlson said the store plans to be a little bit wider in its reach.
“We’re aiming the space a little more toward global spirituality,” she said.
That means the store doesn’t just have jewelry and items from the Nordic or European regions, which are popular in Wicca, but also has some Tibetan and African jewelry too. Carlson thinks the store’s inventory will appeal to a lot of people regardless of whether they are interested in the items for their religious purposes.
“Sometimes I call it a shiny object girl store,” Carlson said. “There is a lot of emphasis on gemstones here.”
Longtime area restaurant owner opens new eastside diner; an update on 19th and Haskell Dollar General; Arts Center raises big money
There are stylish 1980s photos out there that prove I was in some conversations for posting a triple-double on a basketball stat sheet. These days when I talk about a triple-double it most often is to describe the desired strength of my elastic waistband. That change is because of new restaurants like the one recently opened in eastern Lawrence.
Yes, there is a new restaurant venture at 19th and Haskell, and it plans to do what nearly every other restaurant that has opened in the old shopping center has strived to do: make good, old-fashioned food.
“Basically, it is good comfort food, farm breakfasts and food like mom and grandma did,” said Jim Morey, owner of the new Cosmic Cafe. “There is no froo-froo here.”
One of the least froo-froo dishes is a breakfast dish called the Triple-Double. It is a full order of biscuits and gravy, two sausage patties, and two eggs.
Many restaurants have opened and closed in the spot that Cosmic Cafe now occupies in the shopping center at the southeast corner of 19th and Haskell, but Morey brings a lot of local restaurant experience to the venture.
Morey owns the Cosmic Ale House & Grill in Eudora, and was part of the once popular North Lawrence restaurant Fat Man’s. His family also operated the downtown bar Club Hideaway, the Laughing Dog Saloon at 19th and Haskell, and for several years in the early 2000s he operated a restaurant called P.J.’s Eastside Cafe in the spot that Cosmic Cafe now occupies.
“I grew up in east Lawrence over on Maple Lane, and I know a lot of people in the neighborhood,” Morey said of his decision to expand outside of Eudora. “I had some instant business because people still remember me.”
Morey said the Lawrence project required him buying all new kitchen equipment for the restaurant space and doing a deep cleaning of the facility.
“It took us a month just to repaint the place,” Morey said.
As for the menu, breakfast is a big part of it from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.. There are all your traditional bacon, eggs and sausage combinations, plus omelettes. But there also are some unique dishes, like Kaw Valley Eggs, which are scrambled eggs, herbs, sour cream and cheese. The lunch menu includes a variety of hamburgers, patty melts and other sandwiches. But the restaurant’s specialties are a chicken fried chicken dinner and a pork tenderloin dinner that both come with homemade mashed potatoes and gravy.
“We sell the snot out of them over in Eudora,” Morey said.
The 19th and Haskell shopping center is always one worth keeping an eye on. There’s always speculation, or perhaps just hope, that the old center will be redeveloped or undergo a significant makeover. Morey said he thinks the center is poised for an upswing, although he said he believes the problems associated with the location have been overblown at times.
“I think everything is up and coming over here,” Morey said, noting that the area will receive an even larger boost when the city in future years follows through on its plan to connect 19th Street with the new LawrenceVenture Park business park.
The biggest change for the area, though, is the pending opening of a newly constructed Dollar General store in the shopping center. I don’t have an opening date for the store, but as you can see below, it looks nearly complete. I think an opening will happen soon, given that lots of boxes were being unpacked in the store this morning, although it still appears quite a bit of shelving and fixtures need installed.
In other news and notes from around town:
• Lawrence showed its love of the arts once again. The Lawrence Arts Center hosted a major fundraising event on Saturday: Shaken & Stirred, a James Bond themed event. (The fundraiser accepted cash, checks and credit cards, but I believe drew the line at Goldfingers.)
Well, I have word on the success of that event. The event raised $61,000 from more than 200 guests who came to the Arts Center for dinner, dancing and drinks. The event welcomed new CEO Kimberly Williams and thanked outgoing CEO Susan Tate.
The money raised will be used to support the Arts Center’s financial aid fund, which provides arts education to a variety of children, including some in Head Start, the Boys & Girls Club, CASA, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and several other organizations.
An announcement also was made at the event that the Arts Center was attaching Susan Tate's name to the Visiting & Resident Artists Fund to honor the outgoing director. During her six-year tenure at the Arts Center, Tate raised more than $700,000 for the artists fund, which has helped bring the work of more than 400 artists from around the world to the center.