For all your crystal needs
Photos By: Julia Greenwood
Crystals: At worst, they are pretty rocks. At best, they have properties that can help improve the lives of those who carry them. Whether one believes in the powers of crystals or not, they are beautiful stones, often with a historical significance that has touched kingdoms, empires, and generations of the past. In 2021, these stones have become much more mainstream and are providing comfort, luck, and personal meaning in a much more mainstream way. Crystals are granting peace of mind to people all over the country, and Ohio University is no different. For the spiritually inclined on campus, here are the best places to buy and learn about crystals here in Athens.
Entering Cool Digs, 6 Euclid Dr., is like stepping into a gold rush with precious rocks at every turn. Specialty crystals and minerals flood the walls, shelves, and center table. The immense variety of crystal will draw in any collector, but it is the friendliness of the employees that really makes the store a gem.
Unlike many other crystal shops, the store actually brands itself as a rock and garden store. The enthusiastic Cool Digs managers are more than happy to help shoppers learn about the crystals in their store, alongside gardening tips and tricks. This is especially useful as, aside from their high-demand zodiac crystal collections, the minerals only have their names displayed – not their properties. This makes the store especially good for those who have specific gems in mind or are looking to collect rarities.
Those in search of an uncommon stone will be able to find it there. Austin Casto, a shift manager at the shop, said that his favorite thing about the store was its vast selection.
“We have specialty stuff from all around the world that you will find at no other rock shop,” said Casto. “We’ve got old stock ocean jasper, which is almost impossible to find.”
The rarity of some of the crystals does make Cool Digs a large variation of costs, with price tags from fifty cents up to $600. However, most stones vary from $4-$10, a reasonable ask for the size and quality of the stones.
Any questions visitors may have, the managers are ready and happy to answer. Workers are quick to give tours of the small building, shining black lights on crystals that react to bioluminescence and giving demonstrations with “singing crystals,” an interesting type of rock that can produce a whimsical wind chime-like sound.
While the crystals are the main attraction, even non-crystal enthusiasts can find something, as the shop also has two back rooms. The first contains display gardens, in which employees can teach shoppers gardening techniques. The second room is a legend among local children. Casto explained that kids will come in and whisper that they heard they have a “pot room,” only to be shown a back office transformed into a shop room, filled to the brim with black plant pots.
Cool Digs is ideal for crystal shoppers who want the real thing, or those who want to learn about their crystals from a new perspective. The friendly and knowledgeable staff will explain the crystals as rocks, allowing a whole new insight that many crystal shops ignore. If one is looking for rare stones, friendly people, and the real thing, Cool Digs cannot be beat.
BEADS AND THINGS
Beads and Things, 8 N. Shafer Street, is rightfully named. Despite an unassuming house from the outside, inside the store itself is a complete wonderland. Floor-to-ceiling crystals, beads and, as the name implies, things, all collected from the shop owners’ various worldly adventures, greet those immediately after walking in. Beads and Things is truly a shop unmatched in color, variety, and experience. With patient, friendly staff, this community staple allows shoppers to learn about a vast array of crystals, and how to turn them, along with the various beads around the store, into beautiful, wearable jewelry.
What sets the shop apart is its affinity for wearable crystals. The owners are more than willing to teach shoppers how to make various types of necklaces, bracelets, rings, and more using their supplies. Jo Merkle, the store’s owner, explained that Beads and Things is firstly a parts store, full of everything needed to make individualized and beautiful jewelry, right down to the in-store instructors.
Jewelry aside, crystals spill over the shelves and fill baskets on the floor. The shop is colorfully decorated, with one’s eyes never sure on where to land in order to take it all in. Raw crystals line the hallway entrance, as tumbled gems fill baskets in the first rooms. Crystals beads fill shelves and the dining room table.
Beads and Things, like Cool Digs, features a vast selection with only names displayed, not descriptions. However, the shop owners are incredibly friendly and happy to explain any crystal or bead in the building. Upon checking out, they will ask if shoppers are familiar with the stones they are purchasing, and offer explanations if they are not, elaborating on the properties of the crystals, where they are from, and their historical significance. For instance, Merkle will explain that jade originates from Burma, brings luck, and was once used in Central American funeral burials. The owners are incredibly knowledgeable and will make sure shoppers leave knowing more than when they came in.
The shop feels like visiting an old friend, as the owners make sure no shopper leaves without getting their names. The owners seem to remember previous shoppers’ orders and can pull names and prices of their vastly expansive products off the top of their heads. Merkle will ask not only about what one is looking for in the store, but what they are looking for in life. Shoppers cannot leave without making a new, sweet companion.
When going, one must make sure to budget a lot of time. Make sure to stop and take it all in once there, because the store is only open on certain days. Plus, the owners will make sure to take their time getting to know visitors, so budget some time for a friendly talk. Merkle said that the store is everything but fast.
“Sometimes we’re slow as molasses,” she joked.
Beads and Things is the ideal store for any crystal shopper, both experienced and brand new. The shop is a must-visit for anyone who is interested in crystals, or anyone who simply wants to visit a remarkable store.
For crystal shoppers who want to visit a shop that may feel a bit more familiar, Chosen Pathways Spiritual Emporium, 400 E. State St., Suite A, is the ideal place to frequent. It is the only store in Athens that classifies itself as a metaphysical shop, meaning it is much more reminiscent of a “typical-looking” crystal store one might find in Columbus or Cincinnati. Chosen Pathways is ideal for crystal enthusiasts looking for a shop that feels a little closer to home, or for those looking to branch out into all forms of spirituality.
Kelly Lawrence, Chosen Pathway’s owner, explained the store is very new, opening just last May. The shop has baskets of tumbled stones, along with a lovingly titled “Crystal Cabinet” full of larger gems. While it holds many different crystals and gems, the cutest pieces in the cabinet by far are little carved octopi holding various crystals made by an Ohio University staff member.
In fact, the shop is full of local art. Lawrence supports numerous local artists who make all types of metaphysical materials. One specialty item is beautiful, handmade crystal jewelry, so people can wear their favorite crystals. There are also paintings covering the walls for sale, and plenty of other handmade local goods.
Lawrence said she started her shop in part because there were no other metaphysical stores in Athens and have not been for at least 25 years. However, she was also inspired by a Jewish friend who could not find candles for Hanukkah last winter. While she is perhaps best known for her pagan-type collection, she explained that her shop is for all faiths.
“I know there are a lot of spiritual people in the community, and I’m trying to cover all the bases,” said Lawrence. “I have stuff for Christians, stuff for Jewish people, lots of pagan stuff, stuff for Buddhists.”
Lawrence’s shop truly has something for every spiritual person. Aside from crystals and items for many religions, Chosen Pathways also carries tarot cards and spiritual books. Lawrence also has two back rooms, one for divination readings and the other for the shop’s in-house massages.
Lawrence also hopes to start hosting programs at the shop. The store is hosting a multi-tradition Halloween party October 23, along with a paranormal investigator talk Saturday, October 31 to share their experiences with ghost hunting.
The store is truly a place for all things spiritual, and an ideal place to buy crystals for anyone looking to branch out into more spirituality. As Lawrence put it, no matter where people go, “we’re all looking for the divine.”
This is certainly true in all of the crystal shops in Athens. While each store offers a distinct vibe and collection, all three share a deep respect for the crystals, what they stand for, and a true passion to share the special stones with anyone and everyone.