Seven Rays, Syracuse's occult bookstore, is closing its doors this spring after many years in business. The closing of independent bookstores in the era of Amazon, Border's, and Barnes & Noble has been a difficult thing for book lovers to witness. I regularly made the long trip to Syracuse to visit its first-rate women's bookstore, My Sisters' Words, which closed a couple of years ago (I sat on the front steps and wept at my last visit). Seven Rays has served as a resource for me, but I've never liked the store. Its collection, though wide - from UFOs to Buddhism - wasn't deep; I couldn't reliably find either the new books or the classics I was looking for. The sales staff wasn't knowledgeable about the books and other products they sold. I overheard many a conversation among the staff while I was browsing, and it was always banal gossip. The herbs they sold looked dusty and old, and I could never get a reliable answer about the source of their large collection of crystals. Sadly, it's hard to mourn the passing of Seven Rays.
It's got to be difficult to run an occult shop or bookstore these days. I can't imagine it's a way to make money. Stores close all the time; I spent a disappointing afternoon in Cleveland trying to track down the stores listed on The Witches' Voice. Word to the wise: phone first. But there are some wonderful spiritually alternative bookstores and occult shops out there. Crazy Wisdom, in Ann Arbor, is my favorite. And if you're in northern Michigan, The Higher Self, in Traverse City, is worth a visit. Other stores in my neck of the woods that look good, but that I haven't yet visited, include the new Avalon Moon, in Delhi, NY (near Oneonta, for you upstaters); and Goddess of the Seven Sisters, in lovely Northampton, MA (crap - the brick and mortar is gone, but you can still shop on-line). I'm also a fan of Moonrise Herbs in Arcata, CA.
Do you have a favorite bricks-and-mortar occult bookstore or shop?