For 23 years, the Awareness Shop of New Paltz has provided a warm, comforting atmosphere to all of its patrons. Exuding nothing but welcoming vibes, this boutique is a staple of this quirky, upstate town.
From an unassuming pink house on Main Street, one can smell the distinct scent of incense and feel an aura of warmth. Behind its door is a treasure trove of spiritual commodities and knowledge.
This is the Awareness Shop, a New Paltz institution for 23 years and occupant of its pink façade for the past 20.
“I’ve been a working psychic for 30 years, and I was working in retail before that,” Lisa Stewart, co-owner of the shop, said about its beginnings. “So the logical thing was to kind of blend the two careers, rather than try to work for someone else.”
Stewart took hold of her spirituality and channeled it into the shop. It has served as more of a lifestyle and passion project than a business.
Upon entering, customers are greeted by the store’s friendly staff. Hanging in the foyer is a poster that reads, “How to Build a Global Community.” The staff and ownership of the store aim to do exactly that.
From the weekly gatherings for their church, the Church of the Eternal Circle, to their willingness to teach anyone who walks in, it is clear that the shop thrives on this sense of community.
“You’re welcome here,” Anton Stewart, Lisa’s husband and co-owner of the Awareness Shop, said. “It’s a place of safety, without a doubt, for many people.”
This same sense of community is what helps Anton and Lisa select the store’s inventory. With a wide selection of healing crystals, incense, candles and divination tools, the Awareness Shop offers a unique inventory suited to spiritual needs. But it is not the uniqueness of these items alone that sets them apart.
Many of the items in the store are hand crafted, such as the hand poured candles or divine statues. Anything that is not made by the store’s staff is responsibly sourced.
“Lots of stores pop up and disappear, but very few have got the level of commitment that we have,” Anton said. “Which is why we’re still here nearly a quarter of a century later.”
The Awareness Shop takes this same commitment to quality and community into their events. Each event is planned with purpose and fits into place like a puzzle piece. Many planned events revolve around Celtic Wiccan beliefs.
“There’s an appropriate time for everything,” Anton said. “We try to do everything we do to reflect the natural cycle of the seasons, especially in the events that we plan.”
Other events held by the Awareness Shop, such as their monthly psychic fair, are held to supplement their faith.
“Any other readings I’d been to had just been the psychic in a room, but the Awareness Shop had a lot of candles, crystals and herbs,” Noelle Vizzone, a second-year psychology major, said about her experience at the fair held on Jan. 28. “It was more in tune with everything spiritual as opposed to it just being a reading.”
The welcoming atmosphere, dedication to their craft, and the perception of the shop as not just a business, but a home, give the Awareness Shop a charm that exemplifies the character of New Paltz.
“I think it’s interesting when people find us,” Lisa said. “They walk in, and they kind of look around, and they think, ‘Well why haven’t I been in here before?’”
The Awareness Shop is located at 180 Main Street, New Paltz and is welcoming of all customers, both old and new.