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WitchLab emporium shines a light into the shadows

J.R. McMillan

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When it comes to weird, Austin (Texas) may market their offbeat brand, but Columbus quietly holds its own.

Despite a disparaging white bread reputation, we’ve secretly become a Midwest mecca for ideas that often seem at odds with the cows and corn fields that surround us. Which is why WitchLab, the occult emporium for oddities and macabre antiques, found Franklinton was the perfect fit.

“I seriously started to consider a retail space about a year ago. So we looked and spent a lot of time talking to building owners,” recalled Tiffany Boggins, founder of WitchLab. “But as soon as I mentioned what we were doing, suddenly the space wasn’t available, the rent quadrupled, or they just weren’t interested anymore.”

Boggins had been working out of her suburban basement for years with business partner Tona Pearson. Originally intended to become an online store for wholesale supplies, classes and community soon distinguished and defined the brand, providing the personal connection practitioners lacked most.

Photos by Brian Kaiser

“I realized I missed being around other people—having coworkers, having people stop by, having a designated place that wasn’t my home started to become imperative,” she noted. “I put it on the back burner and focused on classes and ideas for building our product base. Then in June, we had the opportunity to look at this building, only because we knew the landlord, and it all went very smoothly.”

Finding the right space isn’t uncommon for small businesses, especially those that struggle with stereotypes and prejudice. Their biggest concern should be making sure customers can find their
spaces, though many often have a tough time finding a space themselves.

“Witchcraft is a word that can shut many doors, but it can also open a lot of doors,” Boggins revealed. “Once you start using the word publicly and with pride, people start coming out of the woodwork who have been looking for somewhere to go, to talk openly, to be themselves.”

Columbus’ West Side has evolved into a safe harbor for artists and entrepreneurs across all industries. From 400 West Rich to The Idea Foundry, the initial enclave of innovators and outsiders continues to expand its geographic and creative footprint.

“We’re both involved in the arts community here and everything is so grassroots. That’s why people love it,” explained Pearson. “It’s artists and makers running their own spaces. Not businesses selling things.”

Even areas as live-and-let-live as Franklinton aren’t always welcoming. Boggins and Pearson made of point of getting to know their neighbors at the mission down the block during construction, and hosted a winter solstice open house to help dispel any lingering concerns, to
shed some light into the shadows that tend to surround their craft.

“We were looking at parts of town that weren’t like the Short North. I used to be part owner of Piercology. Tattoo and piercing places also have a tough time with landlords,” Boggins recalled. “We actually moved from the Short North to Victorian Village to get away from what was going on there and the transformation to trendy. We just weren’t interested in being there anymore.”

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Every aspiring chef who eventually escapes their home kitchen or artisan who outgrows a garage knows finding that first space isn’t easy—and finding the perfect space is nearly impossible. But WitchLab found the right fit in an empty storefront they could cast into whatever they wanted: a robust retail space, a dedicated classroom, a library open to the public, private reading rooms, and an enormous basement for production.

“All of the places I looked at before, I was picking and choosing what I’d have to give up. But here, I could do everything I wanted,” Boggins said. “It gave me all of the things I couldn’t find elsewhere. Plenty of space, parking is great, and I don’t have to sugar-coat anything or change the way I talk about what we do.”

Magic isn’t as maligned as it used to be, but is rarely represented faithfully on screen. Even Harry Potter still draws some ire and CBS sent the series Strange Angel straight to their streaming service. Both Boggins and Pearson admitted they’re fans of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Despite its somewhat inaccurate depictions, it breaks down barriers and starts a conversation.

“Pop culture and the political climate are making witchcraft less obscure. We used to be all of the ‘weird kids’, but now we’re adults who are finding each other,” Pearson explained, revealing an unexpected clientele. “Christian parents bring in their weird kids in because they support their kids, because they want to learn.”

“They’ll come in and say, ‘I don’t know anything about this, but they’re really interested. How do I help them?’ ” Boggins added. “We didn’t realize that was going to happen. Since then, we’ve brought in a lot of material for those just starting out, at any age, books for beginners.”

Beyond the obvious intrigue of the two-headed calf and the human skeleton in the corner named Clay, it’s the more mundane supplies that attract fellow practitioners from far and wide. Their annual autumn event, The Dark Market, attracts vendors and patrons from across the country. But after a December opening to find their footing, spring is when WitchLab expects to hit its stride.

“All of the Pagan holidays are based on balance. So we have the extremes, the solstices with the longest and shortest days of the year, and the equinoxes, where the pendulum is in the middle,” noted Boggins. “That’s when, particularly in the spring, people are itching to start something new. It’s a season of awakening and perfect timing for us, to be open for a few months listening to our clientele and ready when they are.”

For details on events and classes, visit witchlab.com

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Arts & Culture

Virtual Experiences bring culture to our couch

614Now

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Now that we're all stuck at home for the foreseeable future, we could use some entertainment beyond hours of Netflix bingeing. And yes, Carole probably did it*

WOSU Public Media has come to the rescue by putting together a list of local, virtual experiences to enjoy from the safety and comfort of your bunker. Here's a list of just a few upcoming events ranging from music to the arts.

Sunday, March 29
Columbus Symphony’s Russian Winter Festival – The Columbus Symphony broadcasts its Russian Winter Festival ll concert, featuring masterpieces by Prokofiev, Borodin, Rimski-Korsakov, and Tchaikovsky at 1 p.m. on Classical 101.

Columbus Goes Live – The Cyber Festival –  A virtual entertainment experience streaming across different pages to support local performers who are directly impacted by the critical shutdowns of venues during the COVID-19 outbreak. Join in and make history by supporting your favorite bands, comedians and performers in the Columbus area.

Why not a virtual bar?

Brewdog is even getting in on the act with its upcoming, Brewdog Online Bar. They plan to "open" for business at 6pm on Friday, March 27th. The bar plans to feature live beer tastings with our co-founders James and Martin and other beer experts, homebrew masterclasses, live music & comedy and more.

Brewdog will be sharing further details soon and a complete schedule of the events on their Twitter and Instagram accounts.

*Carole, as in this Carole.

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Things To Do

8 things to do this week that don’t involve human contact

614now Staff

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It is a strange time to be alive, Columbus. With the concerns and cases of coronavirus on the rise, you may be feeling worried, fearful, and/or unsure of what to do.

In addition to washing your hands to protect you from the virus, you may want to consider being more of an inside person this week. To curb cabin fever, consider these eight activities to keep you occupied indoors.

Plan a getaway

Once the threat of coronavirus is over, which Gov. Mike DeWine assured would happen in yesterday's address, you'll be ready to get the hell out of Columbus. Consider planning a trip to one of the Scarlet Oaks cabins, Gervasi Vineyard in Canton, Yellowsprings, or the birthplace of bourbon!

Schedule a whacky road trip

Already have a vacation on the books and worked into your budget? No problem! Opt for a cheaper, shorter adventure with one of the destinations highlighted in our Worth The Drive series: Buckeye Express Diner in Bellville, Kewpee Hamburgers in Lima, Cincinnati's Hathaway's Diner, Dietsch Brothers chocolate in Findlay, and Waldo’s G&R Tavern.

Test your Columbus knowledge

You're sick of all your board games and you hate the idea of spending another weekend in front of the tube. Liven up your entertainment with Columbus trivia! What is the hottest month on average? What is Hilliard's median household income? What year did the Kahiki close? See how well you know your fine city.

Binge local podcasts

Not only do podcasts entertain, inform, and engage you, they're also great to binge while multitasking. Podcast + mopping the kitchen? No problem. Podcast + walking the dog? Easy. Podcast + julienning veggies? Careful… but definitely possible. Be sure to support local podcasters! We're sure you can find something that'll pique your interest in the list below.

Get hooked on knitting

What better time to dive into your hobby than a worldwide viral outbreak? And though cold weather is almost completely behind us, it's never too early to get a jumpstart on those Christmas gifts. Click the button below to learn more about where to find materials and resources.

Explore the pasta-bilities of a home-cooked meal

You’re probably hungry after all that knitting. Flex on the fam by whipping up a delectable home-cooked Italian meal. You'll have to slip out of the house to grab your groceries from famed local market Carfagna’s, but trust us, it'll be worth it.

Get hyped for Ohio State Buckeyes 2020-21 season

With no spring game to rev your engine pre-season, you may be feeling a Buckeyes football void right about now. To help plug it until the opener against Bowling Green on Sept. 5, check out old Ohio State hype videos below. O-H!

Read the latest issue of (614) Magazine

The physical copies of the March issue of (614) Magazine are flying off the racks, but you don't have to go out into the world to read it. To learn more about the Columbus esport revolution, the latest food and drink news, and other updates in the community, click the button below to read the digital issue.

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Things To Do

Listen Local: 10 Columbus podcasts to binge

Regina Fox

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The thing with binging TV is that you have to be using two senses at once to be engaged: sight and hearing. That really cuts down on the possibilities of getting other things done simultaneously. But, podcasts on the other hand require only one sense—hearing—so the productivity possibilities are exponentially greater.

Podcast + mopping the kitchen? No problem. Podcast + walking the dog? Easy. Podcast + julienning veggies? Careful... but definitely possible.

That, plus the power of spoken word has the ability to inform, entertain, and inspire you unlike any other media.

Now that we've presented a great case for podcasts, consider subscribing to one made right here in Columbus.

The Rock Doc Chronicles

Interviews, Current Events, Entertainment

Being the on-call doctor to some of your favorite musical acts comes with a lot of stories. Dr Randy Sharma (@rockdocohio) sits down with some of his famous patients to discuss whatever comes to mind.

Ohio v. The World

Culture, History, Places & Travel

An Ohio History podcast, hosted by Alex Hastie.

Rogue Squadron Podcast

Culture, Entertainment, Hobbies

Star Wars Comedy, craft beer, gaming, and more. It’s the rowdiest podcast in the galaxy!

Momcast

Culture, Entertainment, Self-Help

Columbus, Ohio moms Mindy Drayer, Mikaela Hunt, and Stacy McKay discuss everything relating to being moms and parenting on weekly installments of the Momcast.

Columbus' Entrepreneurs' Podcast

Business, Entrepreneur

Columbus Entrepreneurs’ Podcast is primarily for members of the Columbus, Ohio chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO). The stories are inspiring and focus on core principles of EO, including speaking from experience instead of advice giving, building peer learning experiences, and focusing on the top and bottom 5% of our lives.

Chatimals

Entertainment, Hobbies

Chatimals is the nature podcast where information meets imagination. Each episode covers one kind of animal with an eye out for all the goofy, surprising animal facts.

The Sounds of Bustown

Culture, Entertainment, Music

A bi-weekly podcast featuring interviews about the musical creation process with people in the music scene in Columbus, OH.

Thrive and Connect

Culture, Self-Help

How to live your life in a more genuine, simpler manner and develop abundance in all aspects – yourself, family & friends, and business relationships.

Columbus! Something New

Culture, Entertainment, Places & Travel

Why do we do what we do? Why does C!SN exist?

  • To introduce listeners to local entrepreneurs and big thinkers
  • To be a conduit between community and events, museums, and new experiences
  • To be a value to entrepreneurs as we broadcast them to the world
  • To be a value to listeners as we expand their world and bring them new ideas

The Digital Analytics Power Hour

Business, Technology

Each episode is a closed topic and an open forum – the goal is for listeners to enjoy listening to Michael and Tim share their thoughts and experiences and hopefully take away something to try at work the next day.

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