A small white door tucked into the side of the building is all that stands between the current life one may lead and a new spiritual path. The white door of Celestial Rites opens to reveal walls lined with herbs and powders, shelves filled with spiritual literature and two individuals dedicated to helping people find their spiritual connection to the world around them.
Celestial Rites owner Jennifer Kraych said she didn't have any concerns going into 2021 for her metaphysics shop on Fourth Avenue. Kraych is like many small business owners in Tucson who experienced forced closures, reduced hours and fewer customers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kraych said she is hopeful for this year because of her desire and drive to give others hope despite 2020 being her and her husband’s worst year for business, excluding the year the shop opened.
Kraych and her husband, Michael Kraych, have owned Celestial Rites, located at 543 N. Fourth Ave., since they opened in 2012.
Michael Kraych said when the two originally opened the shop, they were trying to address the lack of metaphysical stores in Tucson. He said Celestial Rites has taken a different approach than other metaphysics stores that have been established since by offering a more Pagan approach to metaphysics built on old witchcraft and Greek mythology.
Celestial Rites sells a variety of candles, oils, occult/magick books, jewelry and powders in addition to services such as palmistry — also known as palm readings — that Jennifer Kraych said were a big contributor to the shop’s overall income. The shop stopped offering palm readings and began prohibiting customers from using the bathroom because both are unsafe during a pandemic according to Jennifer Kraych.
Both owners have put many pandemic health guidelines into practice at Celestial Rites like many shops around them. The shop now limits how many people are allowed in the building at any given time, sanitizing commonly touched surfaces regularly and requiring properly worn masks.
“We try to accommodate them and remind them that they have to put their mask over their nose or that they need to wear a mask in here. Sometimes if they get really agitated about it and they wanna argue about it, then we have to ask them to leave,” Jennifer Kraych said.
The Fourth Avenue Spring and Winter Street Fairs provided many local artists and small businesses with a large portion of their annual revenue. Last year, city and health officials along with the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association determined the best course of action for public safety was to cancel the Winter Street Fair. News of the Spring Street Fair's cancellation was announced on Jan. 19, 2021.
Rikki King, a book seller at Antigone Books located on Fourth Avenue, said the cancellation of the 2021 Fourth Avenue Spring Spring Street Fair didn't come as a shock.
“It’s a shame and we love it. Every year it always brings a lot of business, but it's clearly just not safe yet," King said.
The most recent cancelation gave Jennifer Kraych mixed feelings. She explained her feelings were the result of the lack of aid for small businesses from the state government.
“We’ve lost the street fair now three times. We've lost the gem show. There's a lot of people who are still afraid to go out into the community and shop except for the essentials, so things have slowed down quite a bit," Jennifer Kraych said. "I really understand we have to keep people safe, and [COVID-19] unfortunately is a huge thing right now, especially in Arizona, so it's not safe. There's a lot of new strains coming out, but, in the same sense, Arizona really hasn't stepped up [its] game to help small businesses in my opinion.”
Jennifer Kraych said she and her husband didn’t apply for the first loan from the state that was offered to small businesses.
“A lot of businesses here didn’t get the first loan, so we didn’t even bother to try with that. A lot of the bigger corporations absorbed a lot of the first one that came out, so not a whole lot of businesses benefited from that one, none that I know personally,” Jennifer Kraych said
Jennifer Kraych said when she has gotten the opportunity to talk with other shops on their block of Fourth Avenue, they agree that the 2021 street fair cancelation was a big hit for business.
“We rely on it to get it through our summers; a lot of businesses down here do. Summers can be pretty brutal as far as business is concerned,” Jennifer Kraych said.
Jennifer Kraych applied for the most recent small business loan from the state but said she was unsure if Celestial Rites will receive any money.
Jennifer Kraych said she thinks COVID-19 has affected everybody in different ways and even recalled quarantine being a big issue for relationships in some tarot readings she did for customers.
“I think that it’s affected everybody in some sort of negative way, whether you’ve personally experienced COVID-19 or it’s hurt somebody in your family or you’ve had financial difficulties, things like that. I think it’s affected everybody. It’s affected people's relationships. I see that a lot in tarot readings. They don’t really know their partners because they're working all the time and then they get quarantined together. Everybody’s been impacted by it,” Jennifer Kraych said.
However, Jennifer Kraych is applying her world of metaphysics to her everyday life in this pandemic.
“Spirituality is more about accepting everybody and understanding that when the community succeeds we all succeed. It's not about the independent person … society has kind of taught us that if it doesn't affect you, don't worry about it. Spiritual paths tend to teach us that our whole community matters. Somebody’s suffering, economically or with illness, and things like that affect us all,” Jennifer Kraych said.
Although last year might have been a strain on many in the Tucson community, Jennifer Kraych and the others at Celestial Rites are willing to find new solutions for their business, even if it requires them to ship something that is in town.
“We made it work just because we have to. So we're fighting to do the best we can to keep our business afloat,” Jennifer Kraych said.
For Jennifer Kraych, it is important for everyone to keep that fighting spirit and continue to serve the community through the pandemic.
“It gives people hope that they matter to someone who may not know them,” Jennifer Kraych said.
Celestial Rites is open Monday through Saturday for all things metaphysical with the exception of palm readings. For more information on the shop’s hours, location and current services visit their website: http://www.celestialrites4thave.com/ or call (520) 344-4203.
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