A truly eclectic store nestled in one of Gastown’s oldest buildings, Salmagundi West is a treasure trove of curios, oddities, and ephemera. It’s also rife with tales of restless spirits. I spoke to owner Anne Banner to find out more.
How long has the store been in existence?
Over forty years, although I haven’t been the owner for all that time. The building itself is even older, dating back to 1889.
When was the first time you sensed the store might be haunted?
I was standing next to another staff member and I opened a glass cabinet so that we could change the display inside. A blast of cold, damp air came firing out, causing us to stand back. The strange thing was it was a warm day and the cabinet was lit from the inside so should have been warm.
What do you think caused it?
I don’t know, I’ve never been able to explain it. I’m pretty much a skeptic by nature, but there’s things that have happened in the store that I just can’t explain.
Another time a brass kettle that was tied to the ceiling fell to the ground for absolutely no reason at all. The knot that tied it to the ceiling fixture was totally secure, but the handle of the kettle literally unscrewed itself.
What happened to the kettle?
We sold it.
So does your stock come with a warning that it might be possessed?
Ha ha, the kettle did.
Tell me about the building
It’s one of the oldest buildings in the city and one of few “flat-iron” shaped ones. We occupy the ground floor and the basement, which has an original vault. It’s one of the most gothic spaces I’ve ever been in – an original dirt floor, bare rock walls and a huge iron door. I won’t stand in there on my own.
Is it true a psychic operates out of your store?
Well she’s not a psychic, she’s an intuitive. Her name is Patricia Cosgrove. She’s one of the city’s most renowned tarot card readers. In fact, she uses the vault for her readings. It’s definitely a really charged space so I think she finds it helps with her readings.
And can customers check out the vault if they visit the store?
If we’re not too busy.
You can visit Salmagundi West at 321 West Cordova Street. To learn more about tarot card readings with Patricia Cosgrave visit the store or call 604-681-4648.