Walking along East Parrish Street in downtown Durham, before you hit the corner at Church Street, you’ll slow down. In the light-filled windows to your left, you’ll see dark green leaves of aloe plants and rosy quartz crystals and hardwood shelves, neatly stocked with jars of herbs. A cozy couch, smiling faces, tables covered with colorful books beckon from inside. You can’t resist the magnetic pull and you enter the doors of Everyday Magic.
by: Leslie Nydick
Since opening in 2016, Everyday Magic has been downtown Durham’s go-to place for the retail sale of crystals, jewelry, skin care supplies, bulk herbs, and wellness books. Co-owners Bakara Wintner and Madison Rootenberg also designed it as a space for classes, workshops, and above all, community connection.
Referring to themselves as “witchy girl bosses” — Bakara and Madison shared their story on a chilly day when Everday Magic felt like an urban, tropical oasis. They had been classmates at Emerson College. At the time, Bakara, who refers to Madison as her “baby witch”, was learning how to read Tarot and gave Madison her first Tarot card reading.
In late 2015, Madison, who had been living in California, made up her mind to come to Durham. It wasn’t long afterwards that Bakara, who had been living in New York, decided to relocate to Durham, too. After they came up with the idea for Everyday Magic, they took it one day at a time, following their intuition and inspiration, and opened the store in March 2016.
“We googled how to open up a business,” said Bakara, “and we had no investors, no business plan. My grandmother had left me some money. So we spent three months at my house and bought stuff. The day before the opening, boxes were still arriving.”
Sitting on the cozy couch, one would never think of the store as chaotic. Quite the contrary. Bakara and Madison designed the space to feel like a warm, loving home.
“We worked with the magical principles: As within, so without. As above, so below, “ they said. “Space affects us, so we created a sacred space with objects that are beautiful, intentionally and ethically produced.”
When asked why they chose to leave larger cities and open Everyday Magic in Durham, their purpose was clear.
“In Durham, we’re still shaping the identity of the city, unlike in New York or San Francisco. So that creates community. There was nothing like Everyday Magic here. We’re filling a gap.”
When the store opened, local merchants sent folks their way, and Everyday Magic has reciprocated. The owners intentionally do not sell products that their neighbors provide.
“Integrity is key to us,” say Madison and Bakara, “we’re motivated by a mission to support each other.”
This community-building spirit isn’t just outside the store. In the beginning, Everyday Magic was buying plants from Megan George, urban landscaper and author of the book Modern Terrarium Studio After three months, Bakara and Madison asked Megan if she wanted to share their space. She agreed and opened The Zen Succulent with the assistance of her mother Margaret.
Megan has been selling succulents and crafting one-of-a-kind terrariums ever since. Like the earthy items displayed and sold at Everyday Magic, the terrariums contain only natural plants, many of which are propagated by Megan and her mom in Durham. And in the natural spirit of sharing, Megan’s succulents overflow into the space of Everyday Magic, as the customers who enter through Everyday Magic flow into the adjacent “shopscape” of The Zen Succulent.
Rounding things off, filling another niche, herbalist Rochelle Eisenberger was originally a vendor until Bakara and Madison brought her in. Now she uses a section of the store for her business, Empress Herbs.
Blending seamlessly with the rest of the space, her hardwood shelves holding jars of herbs were built by Rochelle’s family. Drawing on her lifetime of knowledge and experience living in the woods and working as an herbalist, Rochelle offers visitors herbal remedies for what ails them. Teas for anxiety, essential oils for massage, and herbal incense are all part of her repertoire.
And as they do with The Zen Succulent, Madison and Bakara generously integrate Empress Herbs into their interior community life. When they plan events, they include all three businesses. Every Saturday, there are Tarot readings in Everyday Magic. They plan to offer weekend retreats to teach Tarot. The Zen Succulent offers terrarium making workshops. Empress Herbs hosts bookclubs and discussions about herbal remedies. There are monthly dog adoptions, parties featuring visiting craftsfolk, and after hours events for core customers.
This past year, Bakara published a book called What the Fuck is Tarot. When asked how her approach differs from other approaches to the Tarot, she said, “My book has stories that are relatable to everyone’s life. It’s not just about directions. It’s Tarot that pulls yourself out of your life so you can have fun.”
The owners have other talents and sources of income. Rochelle is a massage therapist, Megan a teacher, and Bakara and Madison do individual Tarot readings.
Everyday Magic aims to grow organically, without profit-making as the driving force. As Everyday Magic helps shape the identity of Durham, we, the community, can help keep it afloat. Buy a crystal or an herbal remedy or an aloe plant! Get a Saturday Tarot Reading! Or just settle into a comfy couch, pick up a book, and float peacefully into the oasis on East Parrish Street.