Pickeyweedz shop near Clarks Summit offers witches' brew of occult esoterica

Jan. 8—SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. — Pickeyweedz, an occult esoterica shop, opened in Clarks Summit a few weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown in March 2020.

At that time, owner John and Tay Shenkel were still fairly new to Northeast Pennsylvania, having moved from North Carolina to Clarks Summit in 2018 when John's former job in corporate security relocated him.

As longtime aficionados of paganism — Tay, 56, hails from North Carolina, while John, 52, is a Michigan native — they saw an opportunity to open a specialty store in NEPA.

"We've been practicing witches, pagans for what, 30 years?" John asked his wife of 25 years.

Tay said she started practicing at age 14, while John began in his 20s.

Pickeyweedz pitches a witches' brew of wares that include tarot cards, ritual tools, home décor products, candles, incense, crystals, gemstones, jewelry, bulk herbs and teas, and books on subjects of witchcraft, sorcery, occult philosophy, mystics, voodoo and hoodoo.

Items can range in price from under $1 into the hundreds or a few thousand dollars. While they sell online, too, a brick-and-mortar store best suits their operation.

"These are spiritual things. People want to see them, touch them, smell them, feel them, and you can't do that online," John said.

Clientele include devout and casual practitioners to non-pagans.

"Some people don't have any affiliation with it and they just like crystals and that's cool, too," John said. "There's no requirements. We love everybody."

Most customers come from Northeast Pennsylvania and the Poconos, New York and New Jersey. Some regulars drive three or more hours from Connecticut, Maryland and Virginia.

"The community here is vast," John said.

Describing paganism as rooted in agriculture and seasons, John said, "There's nothing spooky. It's actually very mundane. There's nothing 'boogedy boogedy' " about it.

The Pickeyweedz name honors a deceased father of a friend of John's, who used to say the term in reference to his son and John "playing in the picky weeds," meaning thorny pricker-type bushes that stick to clothing, footwear or animal fur.

Pickeyweedz started on State Street in Clarks Summit at Highland Avenue. After weathering the pandemic shutdown, business picked up and they needed more space. Last year, John left his corporate job to run Pickeyweedz full time with Tay.

They moved the store in November to a larger spot at 105 Layton Road in South Abington Twp.

Koren Clark of Scranton, who collects crystals, moved to Scranton from the Philadelphia area in early March 2020 and eventually discovered Pickeyweedz.

"I started going to Pickyweedz (in Clarks Summit) just to look at rocks. But then from that point on, from day one when I walked in, the welcoming, the friendliness, the sense of just being in a safe place, it was awesome, the energy here," Clark said during her first visit to the new location on Saturday.

Also on Saturday, Pickeyweedz hosted "sand divinations" done by Geofferey Llewys, 68, of Waverly Twp., a retired electrical quality engineer in the aerospace industry. Citing ancient Bedouins, Llewys had participants use a wand to poke four rows of dots into sand spread out in a small box. With those holes, he discerned descriptions of their personalities.

Genie Remetta of Lake Winola heard about Pickeyweedz via word-of-mouth and visited once late last year for some Christmas shopping.

On Saturday, she brought her twin sister, Jenny Remetta of Buffalo, New York, and Erica Wilbur, of Lake Winola, for sand divinations. They came away feeling that Llewys accurately discerned their personalities.

"I like this kind of stuff," Genie said.

Contact the writer:

jlockwood@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100 x5185;

@jlockwoodTT on Twitter.