The Store that Converted

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  February 24, 2007 — 3 Comments

The Leaf-Chronicle in Tennessee profiles a New Age store that is switching over to a Christian book store due to a religious change of heart by the owner. Susie Clark, who bought a pre-existing New Age store to escape the grief of her husband dying, is now selling off all of her non-Christian stock to make a space more in tune with her new returning faith in Christianity.

“Susie Clark has tens of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise staring her in the face. All of it must be sold by Wednesday. Despite that pressure, she feels lighter, freer and happier than she has the last two years…Clark bought Body, Mind and Spirit from then-owner Annette Cunningham in July 2005, shortly before Cunningham died of cancer…Soon, classes on the power of crystals were being held in the shop. A psychic came in several times a week to offer readings to customers. A Wicca circle, composed of witches who practice the nature-based Pagan religion, began meeting there.”

The article seems to go out of its way to equate a certain “darkness” and wrongness to the New Age and Pagan items they sold.

“And Clark got sadder and sicker…Since opening the store, Clark went completely deaf, with little explanation…Jeff Stark, associate pastor of Clarksville First Church of the Nazarene, says the God he worships is a loving, protective God. While he doesn’t believe God caused Clark’s illness, he does believe God communicates through people’s lives. “There’s a way God speaks through our circumstances and makes us think, ‘Where was I going?'” he says…Clark hoped her shop would be a place of hope and healing for herself and others who were grieving. “It didn’t turn out that way,” Clark says. “I had some people on staff that were completely Wiccan. Then there was what the customers wanted. My whole vision of what I wanted to do went out the window.” Despite being profitable, the store was dragging Clark deeper and deeper into a pit of blackness.”

Despite being rescued from her “pit of blackness”, and “getting her brain back”, Clark doesn’t seem to mind a Wiccan helping her redesign the store’s computer system.

“Even Daphne Redd, a Wiccan who is working with Clark to redesign the store’s computer system, says she supports Clark’s decision. ‘I bless her for it. There’s no harm in it for me,’ Redd says. ‘The church did not come in here and demand her change her ways. She chose something based on her own conviction.'”

In a related article on the shop’s shift in focus, Clark and her business adviser hope the new store will be more welcoming.

“Clark hopes an uplifting, welcoming atmosphere will attract people of all religions to the new store…John Lee, who has experience running Christian bookstores and is helping Clark with the transition, says they hope to create a place where all people feel comfortable.”

I think they mean make “Christians” feel comfortable. I’m sure the Pagans felt comfortable already, and may feel less so now. While I’m happy that the owner is happy, I would have liked to hear more from the local Pagan and metaphysical community. How do they feel about the change? Are any of them upset that the dying woman she bought the store from wouldn’t have wanted it to become yet another Christian book store? Where do they plan to gather and shop now? Information that would have enriched and balanced the story.

Jason Pitzl-Waters