Hanging out in Golden
DIY for the mind, body and spirit
What happens when shopping meets spirituality? Words: Louisa Pearson
pending two hotrrs with Tom McCarthy is an educational.
enlightening but most of all entertaining experience. His
three Edinburgh shops. Crystal Clear. Wildwood Books and the latest addition. Golden. might come under the title ‘New Age' in the Yellow Pages. but he prefers to describe them as ‘Homvlmses for spirituality". It might sound like a throwaway remark. but McCarthy is dedicated to making his shops as accessible as possible to anyone who‘s feeling in need of a little guidance.
A Vietnam vet who came to Scotland in the 70s. McCarthy emerged from a houseful of hippies to run his first shop in C ockburn Street market (the same premises which houses Crystal Clear today). Before long he had seventeen outlets on the go. but made the decision to retire to the rural idyll of littr'ick where his ‘gone fishin” sign would often be on the door.
The next stage on his journey took him to Sarnye Ling Monastery in Dumfries where he spent twelve years following the Buddhist path. Perhaps this might have seemed like the end of a journey but the head of the monastery decided to give McCarthy a gentle push out of the nest and in July 1997 he found himself back at Crystal Clear. What goes around. it really does seem. comes around.
A calming and welcoming individual. McCarthy's own personality extends into all his shops. and in fact he describes them as ‘3D sculptures‘ — the outlets for his creativity. liach one has a distinct identity. The compact and bijotr Crystal Clear houses gemstones. tarot cards and runes amongst its wares. and has the feel of a treasure trove. Larger but with plenty of nooks and crannies. Wildwood Books features lanterns. drums and
didgeridoos among the diverse selection of products. The layout of
Golden was designed by the lrnperial School of l5eng Shui —— and it
shows. From the aquarium to the wind chimes it's an instantly relaxing space. stocking fossils. minerals. music and books as well as much larger items like the wooden carved dragons (recently admired by a browsing J.K. Rowling) and Indonesian chairs shaped like two huge upturned hands that just beg you to rest your feet. There's even plans to install an aura camera in the basement.
Just where shopping meets spirituality is difficult to define. btrt in the same way as TV favourite Mr Benn went into the fancy dress shop and came out in a whole new world. .VlcCarthy"s shops open the door to self- development. Take the example of the soaring popularity of chakra bracelets since Madonna was first spotted wearing one during her Ray Of Light period. People from all walks of life were going into shops like Tom‘s and snapping them up as fashion items. There's every chance that these people will decide to learn more about the gemstones on their wrists. and that's where Golden et al come in.
The welcoming staff. many of whom have spent time at Sarnye Ling. are friendly and engaging. and in a time when human contact is ever diminishing. that makes a refreshing change. McCarthy says there’s ‘nothing new under the sun.‘ but a visit to one of his shops cotrld open your eyes to a whole new world of possibilities. Or maybe you‘ll jtrst buy a chakra bracelet.
seem, comes around
Crystal Clear, 52 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh, 0131 226 7888; Wildwood Books, 16 High Street, 0131 557 4888; Golden, 109 High Street, 0131 558 3777.
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What goes around, it really does