UPDATE: After having been open for nearly 100 years Harry’s Occult Shop has closed its doors. It has re-opened as Mystical Emporium Inc. on 1210 S St. Philadelphia. However reopened in a former nail salon with bright lighting, the new store lacks much of the atmosphere of the original Harry’s.
UPDATE 7/18/16: Mystical Emporium Inc. has likewise met the fate of it’s predecessor and is now permanently closed.
Open since 1917, Harry’s Occult Shop originally began as a traditional pharmacy. However, many of the first customers that came into the shop were african american southerners, who would repeatedly ask Harry for various powders and oils of an “occult” nature. The southerners came up to the north bringing their Hoodoo, (a type of african american folk magic not to be confused with voodoo) traditions with them, and a consumers demand for the appropriate powders, blessed candles and incenses.
At first confused by these requests, Harry began researching the Occult (also known as White Magic), and soon began creating his own Occult powders and spiritual products on the premises, complete with his own homemade labels. Harry became known for advising customers on emotional and physical problems and helping them to use his products to treat their conditions. Harry proclaimed the mottos of the shop to be “We Aim to Help” and “Light a Torch for the Good and Cross Swords Against Evil.”
While often associated with evil, the word Occult simply means hidden, unheard or unseen, and the occult products Harry sells come out of a long American tradition of Spiritualism, Mysticism and Hoodoo. According to the shop they are used only to create positive energies and bring about changes in the recipient.
While Harry’s has gone through a series of owners since 1945, it continues to be known for teaching customers how to use “candles and other Occult products such as oils, incense, herbs, baths, floor wash, seals etc. to put positive energies” into the universe, and “to help change the negative blockages that are affecting the world.”
Today the shop is managed by Marcia Finnegan, who, along with other “spiritual advisors” in the shop, continue to coach customers on how to use their special Occult products to remove negativity from their lives. In addition to the original shop, Marcia has a wellness center on the second floor specializing in “Reiki healings, Neuro Linguistic Programming, Hypnotherapy, and Stress Management.”