Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Paranormal Books & Curiosities - A Bookstore's Perspective

People always ask me 'how did you get interested in this stuff?'. It is a fair question. I mean, they probably assume that I had some uncanny experience that set me on this paranormal path. Perhaps I was 'tormented by demons' as a popular tv personality states. Or, perhaps as a child the dead would reach out to me, desperate to communicate and solve their problems.

Nope. My answer is far more mundane, 'I was born this way'. Since I can recall I have had an overriding passion for all things fringe, unusual, paranormal. As a kid I wanted to hear all the dark and mysterious stories of our town. I lived across the street from the town burying ground and spent hours upon hours drifting through the old stones, reading names, pondering lives and just asking questions of the dead. The most prominent question was 'where are you now?'.

Year and years later, I still drift through old burial grounds, still ask thr same question. For a living.

I spent many years working in corporate America, doing things I really loved. Talking to people, learning about different cultures and developing events to halp people connect with their culture while living in the United States. I specialized in sports programming, cricket to be specific. As you can imagine telling people that my job entailed working in the Cricket community, as an Irish American female, raises some eywbtows. But tht was nothing compared to the looks I got when I branched out on my own five years ago and started a business that reflected my greatest interest, the Paranormal.

In 2008 I decided to try something on my own and I opened Paranormal Books & Curiosities in Asbury Park, NJ. It was not an easy sell, to convince a landlord that there was a sustainable business in the paranormal, but my background in television had told me that a brick and mortar paranormal business was viable. In fact, it's time had come. I knew that there were others like me, for whom the unknown was an irresistible lure. These people needed a place where they could get EMF detectors, night vision cameras, dowsing rods and even a book to teach them how to use it. For them, and myself, I wanted to try.

The store I opened on Friday the 13th of June - marketing genius that I am I kept insisting on a saturday opening until someone finally pointed out that if Saturday is the 14th then Friday is the 13th- is not the store I have today. It has been shaped by the people who come into it.

A day does not go by without a conversation that changes or enhances my knowledge or interest in the paranormal. More than just ghost stories, I get to speak with people about their most intimate fears, their losses and their renewed hopes. I also get to hear some of the craziest ghost stories you can imagine, like the realtor who was showing a house when a miniature old woman appeared holding a bushel of apples and shooed realtor and prospective buyer from the property. A spectral miniature woman, of course.

Through my own interests and the generosity of others I have collected an amount of paranormal 'oddities'. A gargoyle from a haunted mansion in New Orleans French Quarter, a brick from the hangar where the remains of the Hindenburg were stored, a palo mayombe cauldron - you know, stuff. In 2009, I decided that this stuff deserved to be showcased and I opened The Paranormal Museum.

Now, five years later, after hundreds of investigations, thousands of conversations and countless stories, Paranormal (bookstore. Museum, unique experience boutique) has grown and evolved into a Mecca for paranormal enthusiasts.

What I am proudest of is that we still ask questions, still explore, still seek knowledge.

That curiosity and passion that started the store is still there. People can come in, check out our wide selection of hard to find titles, walk through The Paranormal Museum, take a walking tour, go on an investigation, get a psychic reading and yea, even attend a seance. I am proud of that. Because the paranormal is about exploring, about pushing the boundaries of knowledge. It is about curiosity and passion and learning, listening to others, hearing their experiences and seeing the world as the incredibly complex, constantly surprising, organism it is.

Paranormal is about asking questions and letting nature and our interpretation of it lead you on the wildest journey you can imagine.

If you can't make it to Asbury Park, check us out online at www.paranormalbooksnj.com!

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