Magus Books was founded in 1992, the same year as The Edge, but I understand it is now under new ownership and is at a new location. Share with us a bit about that transition and share some fun and interesting bits of information about the current owners.
After being in the same neighborhood for 25 years, we were ready and excited to move into something new that reflected the changes Magus has been through. Liz and Mela took the reins of Magus, and decided to move to the Arts District in Northeast Minneapolis. It’s an eclectic, diverse and growing area of the Twin Cities. The move has been great, with improvements to the new location and what we are able to offer growing weekly.
Each of us has been with Magus Books & Herbs for over 20 years and Roger Williamson, our founder, waited patiently for us to be able to purchase the shop from him when he was ready to retire. He made sure to give each of us experience with all facets of the business so that we were well equipped to take the reins. It has been a fun and exciting challenge.
What sets Magus Books apart from other retail businesses?
Shining Light and Expanding Horizons! It’s our value and mission at Magus and we are proud to be a place where anyone can come and find something interesting or intriguing. We aren’t just a retail store to buy really cool stuff at — we also offer classes and services, as well as events that encourage people to explore themselves and the universe that we all share. We are a multicultural, one-stop spirituality shop, and we hope to help each and every customer that walks through our doors.
What is new and different at Magus Books for those of us who may not have visited you for a while?
Well, we are always getting in new locally crafted items, ranging from jewelry to soaps and lotions. We carry hard-to-find rare books, and the variety of tools we offer really sets us apart. There are not many places where you could find a singing bowl for meditation alongside a Voodoo Doll for healing.
What have you learned from your patrons that has allowed you to make Magus Books an even better experience?
Our customers help us and teach us so much! We really enjoy the conversations we share, and seeing our customers grow and change over the years. It’s an honor to be able to help customers who come in needing help — we are able to listen and take them seriously as they try to explore and expand themselves. Sometimes that is selling them some hematite and sage; sometimes it is suggesting they call appropriate authorities.
What are the top things people say they are surprised to find, see or experience at Magus Books?
Books on Christianity. Books on Atheism. Satanic Bake sales where all proceeds go to charity. The friendly, knowledgeable staff is eager to help and serve. First time customers are relieved and surprised to be taken seriously and given guidance on their experiences.
What is your favorite story from your experience working at and leading Magus Books?
Mela: There was a couple who used to shop at Magus pretty regularly. One day, one of them came down to Magus saying they needed help — they wanted a spell to make it so their partner would stop hitting them. I took this person aside and had a caring conversation with them, and let them know that if they were being physically harmed that they needed to not bother with spells, but to just get out of that situation. The person was surprised I refused to sell them anything that day; I gave her a Citrine stone for clarity and courage, but that was it. The same person returned weeks later to let me know they had taken my advice to leave and they believed it saved their life. I still think often of that customer, and share that experience with all the employees to remind and model that we really are here to HELP our customers in their everyday lives.
Liz: This is the sort of story you have to be with a company for 20 years or so to have a chance to experience. A young woman came into the shop one afternoon. She had been looking for a group to worship with, one in which she would not be the only person of color. She also wanted a group that would not appropriate the religion of her childhood. She was very frustrated in her search and she was very clear about her frustrations. Roger, our founder, and I had little to offer in the way of help. There were few groups seeking new members that would suit her (very reasonable) needs. She picked up a few items and went on with her day. She returned to the shop periodically, but I did not see her much for many years. One day, a good 15 to 20 years after that first encounter, she came into Magus. She looked wonderful! She was happy, she looked as beautiful as ever, and she had a wonderful little girl with her — her daughter. Her struggles had not been in vain! She found peace, happiness and love. It may seem like a small thing, coming into a shop now and again, but seeing the increasing joy of those who seek out a spiritual path that suits them — even if it leads them back to where they began — is incredible.