Empire staff entertained by three ghosts


Empire psychic readers is located on Main Street in Kent and offers Runes, Palmistry and Tarot readings. Photo by Rachel Sluss.

Brandon Koziol

Shop supervisor Jenifer Jeney strolls into The Empire of Magical Thought each day to open the upscale boutique and say good morning to her three invisible co-workers.

“You know they’re here,” she said. “The energy just feels different.”

Some days, she feels a little girl tugging on her long lacey dress, and other times she hears an old woman whispering her name from the back of the shop.

Once she actually saw the grouchy old man they call Charlie.

“Out of the corner of my eye standing right in front of the counter I saw this man,” Jeney said. “Nobody’s ever seen him since.”

Jeney didn’t know why he revealed himself to her.

Later that day, a customer walked in screaming with rage. Jeney was threatened and almost called the police. She felt Charlie wanted to warn her about the angry customer.

Sometimes, Jeney notices customers walk in and walk right back out. She wonders if those people might’ve had bad intentions and Charlie decided to defend the store.

“I was aware from the beginning that people noticed phenomena in the shop that they interpreted as hauntings or ghosts,” said Catherine Cartwright-Jones in an email interview. She opened Empire four-and-a-half years ago.

Her fantasy shop sells wands, hand-made jewelry and other magical gifts. It’s said to be haunted by the ghosts of Alice, Aunt Mary and Charlie, according to the in-store psychic reader who has talked to and seen them all.

Alice is a young blonde girl who likes to play with people’s hair as they walk through the store. She occasionally throws things off shelves. Aunt Mary is the older woman who can be seen faithfully tending to the candy counter, only making herself known when she tinkers with the computer. Last but not least is Charlie, the old caretaker who lives beneath the creaky wood floor in the dark cellar.

Cartwright-Jones and the staff leave a doll behind the counter for Alice to play with, and some whiskey and cigars in the basement to keep Charlie at peace.

“When business is challenging, some of us make offerings of whiskey and cigars to Charlie, asking his intervention in a difficult situation,” Cartwright-Jones said.

All three ghosts have one thing in common: They all have an emotional connection to the building going back to the 1800s.

The building’s history and Empire’s ghostly tale begins more than 137 years ago, when a fire struck the block.

Back in 1876, the building was burnt to the ground. It was reconstructed, but to this day, the charred black bricks in the back from the scorching flames remain.

Jeney said she relived this horrific fire during her first day at work.

Jeney pointed to the flowing pond in the store and said she was standing there when panic and smoke overtook her senses.

“I felt like I had to get out of here,” she said. “I’ve never had a panic attack, but that’s what it felt like.”

Since that day, she’s felt the presence of the ghosts.

Sales associate Lauryn Vassallo has also noticed spooked patrons and odd happenings.

Vassallo was skeptical about the stories at first, but her disbelief soon shattered one night while closing the shop.

She was waiting for her ride in the back of the shop by herself. Ten minutes passed when Vassallo started hearing something very unusual in the next room — footsteps.

It sounded like someone was walking across the creaky wood floor. She repeatedly called out her boss’s name. No response.

Vassallo then gathered her courage and opened the door. Nothing. The store was completely empty.

“I really thought someone was here,” she said. “I didn’t even want to be in here anymore.”

She stood outside for the rest of her wait.

In-store psychic Samantha Wilmoth has been a reader for more than 35 years and noticed the ghosts right away.

She said she’s even had conversations with the young girl.

“Come on in and see for yourself,” Wilmoth said. “I prefer healthy skepticism.”

Contact Brandon Koziol at [email protected].