I recently did a bit of esoteric shopping in York, visiting Haunted Haunted on Stonegate to pick up some of their lovely Pan incense, and it set me reminiscing about my early pagan years in Leeds and the Saturday afternoons spent dashing from floor to floor of the Corn Exchange between flirting with the shop assistant at Forbidden Planet and Hippypottermouse.
Nothing lasts forever and when Leeds began its regeneration process both stores were priced out of the building and into the city itself. Forbidden Planet still exists, though the love of my teenage years has long since moved on, but Hippypottermouse never really took off in its new location and as more regeneration brought higher unit prices it eventually ceased trading.
Hippypottermouse was not the first pagan store in the City centre, that distinction falls to the Sorcerers Apprentice which ceased trading in the city centre so long ago I only know of its existence through word of mouth, Internet and books I’ve picked up second hand, and certainly wasn’t the last. Mystic Moon opened in the recently renovated Central Arcade however this too has ceased trading in recent months. At the moment there is nothing in the City Centre that qualifies under the classification New Age / Pagan.
It’s not that we are completely without. Right in the middle of the city we have Global Tribe Cafe with its wonderful Vegan and Raw food and Global Tribe Crystal which is well stocked with ethically sourced crystals and curiosities. Bev and Mario have created a wonderfully warm atmosphere in both settings and its a pleasure to pop in. The only thing that brings them into my lament is that Global Tribe is better described as being New Age / Spiritual. If I wanted to stock up on my graveyard dirt or a statue for my altar (that wasn’t a crystal angel or Buddha) I would have to start looking further afield.
We also have Kyro in Morley but unless you have a car it’s not great for ‘just popping in’ if you live outside of Morley. You can order through their Facebook page but there is something about just calling in and talking on an esoteric subject face to face that ordering on line completely lacks.
And this brings me to my lament. Yes Leeds has its moots for socialising and yes, social media exists and yes I could fo all of my esoteric shopping online but can it really replace building a repor with a small business owner with passion and knowledge? You can’t really have a spontaneous conversation with your eBay seller about the work you are intending to do and alternate ways of going about it? I can’t spontaneously decide on a peice of work that might involve a resin I don’t own without planning my shipping times into the preperation.
To top things off I don’t see the situation improving any time soon. Leeds is s vibrant and evolving city. As well as the revival of the Corn Exchange and Central Arcade the city underwent a major redevelopment with the building of the Trinty Centre and its happening again with the building of Victoria Gate Victoria Gate or as it will probably be better known, the John Lewis Centre. Massive areas of the city centre are being redeveloped, particularly around Kirgate Market. There is very little chance of anyone wanting to start up a small independent business being able to afford unit prices in the face of this. Perhaps there will be opportunity in the redevelopmed market itself. We can live in hope at least because you can not replace the community element of your local witchy shop.