The building is cloaked with flowers and greenery. On the outside, it looks like a regular Victorian house on a Birmingham street. But upon closer inspection, onlookers may be surprised.
This place of mysticism and rare books is Books, Beans, and Candles, an occult and metaphysical shop located on Richard Arrington Boulevard in Birmingham. It is the largest store of its kind in the state and has served the people of central Alabama for the past 13 years.
There is a wide selection on anything from spell accessories, to ouija boards, to energy healing devices. The store is also home to a coffee shop and numerous classes ranging from tarot readings to Witchcraft 101.
Laureen Harris, a Birmingham native, visits the shop from time to time. She is fond of the “diverse nature” of the store.
“It’s easy to miss, unless you know what to look for,” Harris said.
Approaching the front door, there is a cauldron-shaped sign emblazoned with the store’s name. Inside is a two-story shop filled with magic and mystique. Walking through the door, dried sage hangs from the ceiling, and half a dozen swords mount the wall. The left side has a bookcase and crystals surrounding a fireplace. There is a cash register to the right and a glass case filled with trinkets.
Each room has its own mystical theme with unconventional decor. Incense, crystals and candles fill the first room. Shelves stacked with jars of herbs encase the neighboring room, which leads into a third room occupied with books, tarot cards and figurines. Up the first few stairs, there is a comfy chair overlooking a window and gothic artwork for sale. Along the staircase there is a towering red dragon painted across the wall, which leads to two rooms where spiritual readings and classes take place.
“I haven’t been to a place like it before, especially not in Alabama,” Ivy Borden, a freshman majoring in art history, said.
Borden has been a loyal visitor of the shop since childhood. When she was young, Borden said she wanted to be a witch and was recommended classes to take and things to purchase.
Owner Mitchell Hagood said locals have not always been the most open-minded but his store has become slowly more accepted. Services like these were not widely offered in Birmingham when he was just starting out the shop, and Hagood felt that he was “the lucky one.”
“We serve a lot of different people who come for different purposes,” Hagood said. Hagood said there was not a store like this in the area, but that it was needed. He has worked and owned the thriving store for over a decade. When traveling, he seeks out other metaphysical stores in the area to browse and shop. There are many products at Books, Beans, and Candles that are made by local artisans, a quality Borden was attracted to as a patron.
“My mom was kind of a hippie,” Borden said. “When she would take me and my brother, it was always a fun trip.”
Borden said she has always had positive experiences and that the employees and guests are “never discriminatory” and always open-minded about numerous religions and different topics.
“I like the many facets the store has,” Harris said. “Something for everyone.”
Harris recently bought a deck of tarot cards, which she is quickly learning how to “properly use.” In fact, to practice, she does a reading every morning.
“It is interesting, the different ways people find guidance, and I wanted to actively try tarot cards,” Harris said. “It is refreshing to see an authentic occult shop in Birmingham.”
If the services and wares are not enough to get curious patrons in the door, the shop also serves some wickedly good beverages. The full-service coffee shop, located in the heart of the store’s first floor, gives patrons a wide range of reasons to visit and enjoy.
Ultimately, Hagood wanted a space of solace that people from all backgrounds could feel welcome. He said he has worked diligently to provide that, and takes the store’s perceived calm and welcoming environment as a compliment.
“That means we are doing something right,” he said.