The idea and vision for the store came about in November 2020 on a trip home from Salem, MA. We were living in Michigan at the time and had only been dating just over 2 months. I instantly fell in love with the atmosphere of Salem, MA. and all of the witchy shops there.
I've always had an affinity for the more spooky or macabre things in life, Halloween and Autumn of course, being my favorite time of year. I tend to decorate my living spaces with many decorative skulls, bats, skeletons, oddities, and the like. August had a long history of working in and then owning his own metaphysical shop. He had closed his shop in 2018 after general burn out set in and he made it clear he wasn't looking to go down that road again but it is a 7 hour drive from Massachusetts to where we lived in Michigan and nothing else to do but talk. His shop had focused on all religions and spiritualities, but I kept stressing my desire to stick to the Witchcraft/ Wicca/ Pagan paths as those are the paths that I resonate with. We took out a journal I had bought in a shop that sold almost nothing but wands and made a list of items we would carry and we pondered a name. There was a tattoo shop in Salem that I loved, though I didn't get a chance to go.
They are always super booked far in advance as they specialize in spooky tattoos. I saw photos online and loved their aesthetic. The shop is called Black Veil Tattoo which lead us to the name Through The Veil. Some have mistook us for a wedding or bridal shop before we opened but the veil we are referencing of course is the veil between the spirit realm and the natural realm in which we currently exist. Much of witchcraft involves asking spirits , ancestors, or deities for divine intervention, advice, help, etc. So Through The Veil represents that connection to the other realm.
Fast forward to about October of 2021. From the start of our relationship I told August I did not plan on living my life out in Michigan. I had spent much of my 20's living in San Francisco and missed that vibe and lifestyle but not the cost of living. Through research I learned Portland, OR had a lot of that same feel but with a lower cost involved. At least that was the case way back when I did such research. August had lived in Portland in the 90's and again in the 2000's and he didn't have any desire to go back. We compromised and settled on Salem, OR thinking we would make a Salem, MA of the West. The question was when to make the move. August brought it up in an At Home store shopping for pillows. He was ready but I had just gotten what I thought was a great job with an arts organization as a box office manager. I was building the program from the ground up, which made me key to its success, and I thought I was amongst my people (other artists). November 1st, my boss had the awkward task of informing me that the Director wanted me to remove the "Halloween" decorations from my desk as Halloween was now over and it was seen as "unprofessional." I had a black glittery skeleton statue doing a yoga pose, a black skull statue wearing a gold crown, an iridescent unicorn skeleton statue amongst glitter pumpkins, and general fall foliage. I failed to see what was "Halloween" and what was not. This came after I was told I could not decorate the Box Office booth for Halloween in October as that too was seen as "unprofessional." I was basically crushed. I felt the very person that I was wasn't being accepted. In fact I was demeaned and told who I was , was unprofessional. My ideology of having found "my people" was shattered. I cleared off my desk into a cardboard box and met August in our driveway saying I was not fired but that I was ready to move to Oregon. At this point he had just gotten a job at Costco in their bakery and he really wanted to see where it was going to go. We decided we would leave for Oregon in March after the Winter snow and I gave my job notice. About a week later though I got more distressing news at my job and was informed they would be taking advantage of my salary position and having me work gobs of overtime with no days off for weeks while cutting the hours of my employees I was training. I called August in tears after my shift had ended and decided to make a break for it then, this time giving no notice. I left the keys and didn't look back. That was November 6th and we sold his house and left for Oregon in December.
We first went to look at a building located in Dallas, OR, about 30 mins from Salem. We had talked to the owner a bit back in September about it. It had been on the market and then taken off it so we reached out via letter. We gave the owner the watered down version of our store plan as a "gift shop" that sells spiritual items such as crystals and incense. She wasn't thrilled with the idea and wouldn't even quote us a price. She instead told us about a building around the corner that was half leased by a pizza shop. I was having reservations about Dallas and it's distance from Salem anyways and we really were hoping to find a live/work situation as we were currently paying a lot in rent for an apartment. I gingerly approached August about the possibility that we needed to raise our budget amount. This isn't the Midwest after all and we just weren't finding things available in our price range. The next morning when I awoke he showed me the ad for the Mercantile. It was a higher price then even what I was hoping to pay so I didn't want to get my hopes up. There were numerous hurdles in getting to view the property, making an offer, having it accepted, and so on. It really took a special eye to see the potential in this building. It was in quite a state of disrepair by the time we got to it. There was no heat for the larger part of the building, just a pellet stove in the residence portion and there were several active roof leaks that needed addressed asap to stem the bleeding of the damage being caused. It was quite full of stuff still when we walked through it that first time despite there having been several estate sales. The previous owners had owned it since the 80s and we knew they had rebuilt the storefront after it had suffered a fire. We could see other areas they attempted to patch up over the years but they got older and the building sat empty for some time so things started to deteriorate. It was a bit disheartening after that first viewing. We were already putting up a lot more of our budget for the building itself and then we saw how much more money would need to go into it for repairs and updating it to heat, etc.
Despite many reservations and hurdles things just fell into place as though it was meant to happen this way. Despite its condition when we saw it I could envision it's potential. Everything else about it, the live/work scenario, the location close to Portland, the look of the outside of the building, it's history and the iconic nature of it's existence as it sits was prefect. As you know, I am a witch, so of course I did a money jar spell to try to help our finances a little. August had investments in the stock market that I envisioned going up and they really did by the end of that week but beforehand they had dropped quite a bit which made him nervous so he sold them in an effort to preserve what we had. lol. Patience is probably a key ingredient in spell work. :) I also did a honey pot spell in order to try to sweeten everyone involved in the sale to our favor and it worked! Our offer was accepted!
In the meantime, August, ever the romantic, read up on tax filings for us as partners, and decided it was simpler and more economical to file as a married couple which is exactly how he proposed to me, lol, and we eloped on March 6th 2022. Despite less then a week planning, and knowing no one out here yet, we managed to pull off a beautiful, even if small, handfasting ceremony at The Witch's Castle in Forest Park in Portland. Being my first time in Portland we wandered some shops after the ceremony including Paxton Gate and finished the day with my fav. ice cream!
We took possession of the building March 11th 2022, probably years before I ever thought we'd be on this road. lol. But sometimes paths are not exactly chosen but are laid out before you in a manner you have no choice but to follow. :)
I remember in Salem, MA. we had gotten a
tarot reading together and the reader said I had a future in money magic (I forget exactly what she called it but basically making money doing something like tarot reading). I told her I had often dreamed of designing my own tarot deck. Maybe I would and make money selling it. lol. I had no idea then that this (owning a witch shop) was what she was seeing.
Stay tuned for the next post on all the fun we had renovating this old building. :)