Business, Lifestyle, News

Ravenstone writes a new chapter in downtown Lynn

This article was published 1 year(s) and 8 month(s) ago.

(Spenser Hasak)

LYNN ― When Eric and Kathleen Gendron opened Ravenstone Gifts in September of 2020, their store consisted primarily of jewelry, crystals, and other wares with a witchy vibe.

“There (were) under 30 titles, easy,” said Eric; Kathleen added that most of them consisted of “‘Crystals for Beginners’ and other things that were really closely-knit to the products.”

However, it didn’t take long for the husband-and-wife business owners to notice that the demand for a Lynn bookseller was huge; even their modest selection was met with a surprising amount of enthusiasm.

“People came in and were like, ‘Oh my God, this is a bookstore in Lynn,’ and we were like, ‘it’s not quite a bookstore,'” Eric recalled.

He and Kathleen didn’t have any reservations about adding to their library, however. The two were quick to capitalize on the positive feedback and, two months after opening, they expanded their sales floor to include an upstairs loft area and a “witch room.” The former consists of about six large bookshelves running along a second-floor landing, and the latter is a dimly-lit alcove featuring occult gifts and a fully-stocked bookshelf on every wall of titles both spiritual and spooky.

Now, over a year after renovating their space, they’re looking to expand it again.

“We are opening up another space upstairs,” Eric announced. “So it’ll be about three times the size of the (witch) room once it’s fully connected, and it’ll allow us to bring even more books in.”

They’re also starting to think about more ways to open their space at 58 Exchange St. to the community. According to the Gendrons, certain local authors have stopped by as customers, and from there they’ve begun discussions about hosting events, such as readings and book signings, for the benefit of book-loving locals. Ravenstone is also a good place to discover the works of local authors and poets.

“I think that one of the beauties of having a brick-and-mortar shop, and it kind of goes with the philosophy of the whole store, (is that) people want something that’s real and tactile,” he added.
“To be able to peruse a bookstore within your own city ― it’s been immensely popular.”

Books are far from a mere business gimmick for Eric and Kathleen. Reading is a passion for both of them, and, according to the duo, their book collection at home rivals their in-store offerings.

“We read a ton,” Eric said.

A diehard Stephen King fan, Eric’s favorite book for sale at Ravenstone is a collection of the legendary author’s short stories called “Just After Sunset.”

“We have a decent little Stephen King selection up there,” he noted.

Kathleen named “Plantopedia” as one of her favorite titles.

“It’s a houseplant encyclopedia and it’s this massive, gorgeous coffee table book that’s got every houseplant you could dream of in it with photos and tips on care,” she said.

Ravenstone’s overtones of witchy, occult and magical practices have lent an influence to its book collection, with many of the shop’s wares boasting a corresponding book ― or two or three.

The array of crystals and stones on offer has made the store’s informational volumes on crystals into store bestsellers, according to Kathleen, but their preserved insects and fossils are also well-represented among Ravenstone’s library.

“The basis of any kind of practice … is knowledge,” Eric said. “So, as much as you have candles and all that stuff ― which is great ― you have to start with learning, and we spent a lot of time searching out books that cover a wide variety of belief systems.”

And variety is key within Eric and Kathleen’s book collection.

Where belief systems are concerned, “we have books up there covering everything from ancient Mesoamerican Toltec beliefs to African shamanism, to Santeria, to Slavic, to Norse, to more straightforward things people know like Wicca,” according to Eric.

But those whose interests lie beyond the spiritual will undoubtedly find something they love.

“There’s everything from a biography on Betty White, to great cookbooks, to poetry,” Kathleen said. “A lot on nature. We have a whole shelf dedicated to mushroom foraging.

“We’re making it all live together, so it’s not intimidating in any way.”

“(We) like to see someone come down with a few different things, like you have like a science-fiction book with a plant book and a book on breads and pasta,” Eric added. “It’s really nice for people to be able to find things that speak to them.”

For Eric and Kathleen, finding the right titles to bring into the store is a combination of listening to the community and listening to themselves. While they’ll often order books based on customers’ interests and the conversations they’ve had over the checkout counter, the couple’s guiding principle is more innate.

“Every single book that’s in our store is something that Kathleen or I decided,” Eric said. “We handpicked every book and said that’s something that we want to put in the store.”

“And they’re things that we can authentically speak to and and sell in a really honest, personal way,” Kathleen added.

Whether it’s jewelry, fossils, fiction or spell books, everything at Ravenstone stems from the collective vision of Eric and Kathleen Gendron.

“Our thumbprints are definitely all over everything in this place,” Eric said. “And it’s really nice to be able to connect with people over that and also introduce them to new things in the same way that we’ve been introduced to new things, which is what life is kind of all about.”

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