A local business that originally began as an online endeavor recently opened a brick-and-mortar storefront in Gig Harbor.
Intuitive Alchemy, which launched as an online presence in early 2016 with an emphasis on products intended to evoke positive energy and transformative living, now occupies a physical space at 5247 Olympic Dr. in Gig Harbor.
In its previous incarnation, Intuitive Alchemy specialized in themed box sets tailored to specific monthly motifs, each comprised of items such as sage, charms, candles, crystals and tarot cards, all with unique metaphysical meanings.
However, owner Rhonda Riegel, a Silicon Valley transplant who has lived in Gig Harbor since 2014, said she always envisioned a tangible space in which to provide her services and products.
“I wanted to create a space that was open, inviting, cheerful, and where you felt like you could ask questions,” said Riegel, 48. “It’s a place of positivity and life.”
The new store has a bright and airy interior that features soft colors and lively accent walls.
“I wanted more of a personal approach,” said Riegel. “That’s why the store is more like a boutique.”
Jody Doty, a longtime Gig Harbor resident and clairvoyant-psychic who has partnered with Riegel to provide her services at Intuitive Alchemy on Thursdays and the occasional Saturday, said she is excited about working in the new space.
“The shop has such a lovely feel. It’s very friendly and colorful,” said Doty, 59. “It’s kind of like Gig Harbor, in a way. It’s friendly, colorful and invites you in.”
In her search for the perfect spot, Riegel explored many spaces in Gig Harbor. She eventually settled on the current location because of the constant traffic at a nearby market, as well as the presence of a coffee shop and a tire store, from which she recently received two inadvertent customers.
“This couple came in. They were so cute,” said Riegel. They said, we “know this spray is for prosperity. But our car mats smell. So, we are going to use it for that, too.”
Customer traffic in the shop has been high so far, Riegel said, and the store opening has been well received.
However, even after a year of envisioning and intensive planning, Riegel said the opening wasn’t as seamless as she’d hoped.
“I did a business plan, the projections. I went over the spreadsheet a bazillion times. The reality is it looks nothing like the spreadsheet I projected,” said Riegel. “There is a lot you don’t think of. Like replacing a cracked bathroom mirror. Or, buying shopping baskets for the customers. Or, trash cans.”
Yet the minor setbacks haven’t deterred Riegel. Through her social media channels and interpersonal skills, she has cultivated authentic relationships with customers.
“A customer’s daughter is a swimmer and her spirit animal is a dolphin. I had just got in a dolphin candle,” Riegel explained, adding that she texted her to let her know of the product’s arrival. “I want the personal relationships because I care about people.”
Riegel also connects with customers through social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, as well as via intermittent texts she calls “love bombs,” or positive affirmations and messages she sends to customers who sign up to receive them.
Customer, friend, and sometime Intuitive Alchemy volunteer worker Ollie Fjor’skera, 26, said the love bombs incite happiness.
“They aren’t spam-like,” said Fjor’skera. “They’ve got good vibes.”
Fjor’skera also mentioned being an enthusiastic consumer of Intuitive Alchemy’s products.
“There is such a wide selection of quality metaphysical things,” said Fjor’skera. “I spend too much money in this store. But it’s worth it.”
Riegel said the business is really about “meeting people where they are at.”
“I say the store is a bridge, in the sense, that you don’t have to subscribe to the metaphysical part of it,” Riegel said. “You can buy something just because you like it, like a candle that just smells good, or a cute animal charm.”
Riegel, who also operates the online business intuitivealchemy.com, said she is enjoying the small-town, personal connections she’s making, and therefore, has no plans at this point for further expansion.
“I love to give people what they want,” Riegel said. “It’s an authentic way, a fun and exciting way, to say ‘I thought of you.’ That’s the fun of it.”
Mackenzie Cooper is a Bremerton-based freelance writer and a member of MediaLab at Pacific Lutheran University. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.