Stranger things: Lakewood is bringing the quirk with two offbeat new retail shops

Lakewood may be a huge hub for the “shop small” movement, but the personalities of the city’s emergent local businesses are anything but small.

This summer, the city has welcomed two niche stores: Coven and Cleveland Curiosities. Catering to those with interests that may be off the beaten path, Coven focuses on all things witchy, while Cleveland Curiosities is packed with oddities that can’t be found anywhere else.

Something wicked this way comes: Coven

From sage to spell kits, Coven caters to the Modern Feminist Witch—a client that owner Miranda Scott defines as anyone walking their own authentic path while caring for others along the way and pushing for equality.  

“I don’t care at all if the people that come in are practicing witches, or if they just love it as a trend,” Scott says. “I think that everybody who steps foot in this store does so for a reason, whether they realize it or not.”

Items from CovenDesigned to be a place where all feel welcome, Coven breaks the stereotypes of dark witchcraft and showcases the concept of an intentional lifestyle. Clients can purchase herbs, sage, spell kits, candles, handcrafted jewelry, clothing, and wall prints, and Scott also offers lessons to shoppers on the basics of witchcraft (from lighting sage to creating ritual candles and casting spells at home).

“This store is truly a manifestation of what the universe knew I needed, and I am grateful for that,” says Scott, who has been practicing witchcraft for three years as a way to navigate the grief of losing both of her parents in a murder-suicide. “I don’t feel like I have to hide here—I can be a witch, I can push a feminist message, and people are really open.”

Scott says that Coven has piqued the curiosity of Lakewood residents, who often stop in to see her wares and ask whether the store is a place of black magic. She views it as a chance to educate and open others' minds to what modern magic looks like and can be.

Though some may view her store as trendy, Scott believes that Coven is in Lakewood to last. She believes that it is an open-minded community that supports local businesses and the idea of "shopping small"—and her big idea fits right into that equation.

For curious minds: Cleveland Curiosities

One step into the shop can make you forget you’re in Cleveland—suddenly surrounded by human and animal skulls, taxidermy, antique medical equipment, caskets, and funeral home furniture. The eyes of a stuffed two-headed calf seem to follow visitors around the store as they browse the selection of oddities and antiques that co-owners Clement Kunkle and Hallie Wallace have acquired.

Cleveland CuriositiesThe early roots of Cleveland Curiosities lie in Kunkle’s attraction to all things odd. After all, at the age of 14, most kids are creating arts and crafts for display on the family refrigerator, but Kunkle was creating and selling framed entomology.

“I guess I was never really into the same things as most kids,” Kunkle shares. “I was always playing with bugs and putting them on pinboards and was just into that kind of stuff—then I realized you could make money from it.”

Over time, Kunkle’s personal collection connected him to a community of oddity collectors and vendors around the country. His connections soon landed his collection on the big screen—with items appearing in My Friend Dahmer and “American Horror Story.”

“It’s funny because Hallie and I will be watching Netflix or something and suddenly be like, ‘Wait, that’s our stuff!’” Kunkle says. “We’ve rented out to so many movies and stuff now. It’s awesome. And most of that business is just word-of-mouth; once they knew about us, our phones started ringing with requests from people we didn’t even know.”

Now Kunkle and Wallace plan to build the same connections in the Lakewood community. The couple sees the store as an educational experience and welcomes questions about the product. On any given day, visitors from 5 to 50 years old can be seen marveling the wonders that fill the walls.

The store will soon offer customers a more hands-on experience with the oddities, offering classes to rehydrate and frame butterflies and other animals.

“There’s just this misconception that people who own oddity shops must be bad people, but we’re not. We love this stuff, and we love when people are open-minded to it,” Wallace says. “I’ve seen kids eyes light up when they see something like a cow’s eyeball in a jar and it’s an awesome experience for us.”