Having grown up in Lanark, Ontario, Angie Whyte was eighteen when she took a job placement at Shadowfax in downtown Perth. As fate would have it, she never left.
“I was in the Futures program at Algonquin College,” recalls Angie. “We were supposed to do three four month placements at different locations, but after four months Wendy and I decided I should stay right where I was.”
According to Angie, “Wendy and I just seemed to hit it off.”
At the time Wendy Laut, the founder of Shadowfax, was a well known figure around Perth, having served as a town councillor, a founding member of the popular Stewart Park Festival and a long-standing environmental activist.
“She was so special,” recalls Angie. “She was very generous with her employees. She had a natural way of building people up and making them feel good. She was my boss, but she was also part sister and part best friend.”
In Wendy, Angie found a kindred spirit who always took the side of the underdog.
“Even when renting the apartments above the store, Wendy would take in those who others would consider too risky,” explained Angie. “Everyone deserves a fair chance Wendy would say.”
Established in 1980 Shadowfax was very much a reflection of Wendy Laut’s personality.
“It was eclectic, funky and had a spirit of fun,” says Angie who started there in 1989 and had the store willed to her by Wendy who would pass away from cancer in 2009.
“I’ve tried to keep the spirit of Wendy alive,” says Angie who believes that to this day the store is still filled with her friend’s energy.
“The energy of the store is so important,” reflects Angie. “People come in just to soak it up. Sometimes they come to buy, but sometimes they simply come for a visit. This is my happy place they’ll say.’
The spirit of Shadowfax is very much in keeping with Angie’s belief that one must approach life with a positive outlook, an attitude that is uplifting rather than gloomy.
“You can’t take life too seriously,” she says. “As they say, don’t sweat the small stuff.”
Nowhere is this sense of fun more evident than in the greeting cards she stocks.
“There’s a bit of shock value there, no doubt about it” Angie laughs. “People will pick one up to have a look and then do a double take.”
Every Sunday from 11:00 – 4:00 the store hosts its “Physic Sundays” featuring different intuitive readers.
“These events have become massively popular,” says Angie, “and often those who come for them will end up buying tarot cards or oracle cards or crystals. The volume is up, no question about it. It’s part of a growing holistic approach to wellness. “
During the pandemic as people’s concern for their health increased so too did their interest in the healing property of such things as crystals.
It’s this spiritual aspect of the business that interests Colleen Lamontagne who started at the store in 2001 and remains a close friend and co-worker of Angie’s.
“Her loyalty, enthusiasm and genuine love of her job are unmistakable,” says Angie who points out that Colleen’s understanding of the different properties and benefits of each stone and its origins are facts she loves to share.
Leanne Dwyer is another important part of the Shadowfax team and is best known for her magical, whimsical flair with displays. She’s also the team’s master organizer.
Angie, Colleen and Leanne aren’t the only ones that visitors come to see at Shadowfax. There’s also Piper, their beloved English Budgie, who came to them as a baby in 2012 and now commands a vocabulary of over 200 words.
“He’s a very cherished and important member of our Shadowfax family”, says Angie. “Many pop in to visit him, often bringing him treats and are anxious to hear what new words or phrases he’s learned.”
For Angie it’s one more indication of the kind of connection that has drawn people to Shadowfax over the years.
“People need to feel welcomed and to be heard. Otherwise, they’d just go to Wal-Mart,” maintains Angie who has worked hard to ensure that Shadowfax has remained true to its roots.
Keeping people happy, healthy, laughing and inspired has been the key to the store’s success since the beginning.
Forty-one years later it still is and one senses that Wendy knew it would be when she handed things over to Angie in 2009.