Small businesses are often reflective of the community that surrounds them. The impossible-to-miss purple house that has stood on Main Street for almost three decades now, easily recognizable by most as The Awareness Shop, is no exception.
As a shop just a short walk from campus, the owners are well aware of their center in a college-based town. It was this fact that inspired their ever popular, Monthly Psychic Fair hosted generally on the last Sunday of each month. During this fair, the store is open for walk-in only, 10-minute psychic readings for $10. On regular days, the small team of psychics who work at the shop provide half-hour sessions for $50. As mentioned before, small businesses often respond to the unique aspects of the town they operate in. And in our college town, it was actually the experience of providing readings for students that sparked the idea of the Psychic Fair.
Before the pandemic, readers from the Awareness Shop would visit the school during orientation week to provide mini-readings to first-year students.
“It’s always nice to meet the young folks who have come to the community for the first time,” co-owner, Anton Stewart expressed. “For a lot of people it’s their first time away from home. So it’s kind of helpful to have that slight esoteric support system for them.”
He noted that students have small budgets, so the Psychic Fair stems from the idea of allowing a quick and affordable way for them to receive a reading. In pre-pandemic years, the Psychic Fair has been known to be an all-out spiritual extravaganza attracting upwards of 300 customers.
“It was like a mosh pit,” he explained. “There must’ve been a hundred people trying to get into the register at the same time. But it was a lot of fun.”
The Awareness Shop strives to keep their space as safe during the pandemic as possible. So amongst precautions such as mandatory mask-wearing upon entrance to the store, a limit to the amount of people who can attend the Psychic Fair is now in place.
Besides providing readings, The Awareness Shop, described on the business’ website as “New York’s oldest and most-trusted magickal store,” is a spiritual hub for “magical and wonder-filled things” such as crystals, tarot decks, incense, metaphysical gifts, workshops, classes, other events and more.
But to many, the shop is even more than that. The co-owner states that the shop attempts to exist as a welcoming space for all.
“We’re very much a community center, we do what we can to try and support our local community as best we can and extend into the spiritual needs of our community as well,” he explains. “It really is a space of safety and love and healing, everybody’s welcome. The store gives people a hug.”
Lisa Stewart, his co-owner and “other half” has been working to make this space what it is today ever since she first opened the shop, originally on Cherry Hill, in 1995. Her journey with the metaphysical began when she was just 22-years-old, since then, she has gained over 30 years of experience in psychic readings and the world of spirituality.
She believes that “a reading should be a positive experience that helps you to avoid negative events by alerting you to them. A consultation can help you to gain a much clearer perspective of what’s going on around you.”
Her partner compares receiving a reading to getting ready to drive a car and peering through the windshield.
“Better to do it with a clean windshield so that you can actually see out, rather than one that’s fogged up or coated in ice,” he explained. “What we provide with a psychic reading is a clearer insight into what lies before you, so that can help you make better judgement and deal with stuff good or bad, that’s all it’s really about.”