STONINGTON — You don’t need a ticket aboard the Hogwarts Express to enter The Cloak and Wand, just a love of curiosities and all things magic.
The wizard and witchcraft-themed retail shop and “potion drink bar,” which opened last week in Olde Mistick Village to crowds of excited customers both Saturday and Sunday, isn’t your run-of-the-mill memorabilia outlet or store. With a pleasant staff of well-trained wizards and witches, a selection of wands that exceeds the variety at Ollivander's and a museum “dark corner” filled with shrunken heads and creepy dolls, The Cloak and Wand really is a curious place as its sign says.
And you don’t need to know anything about Harry Potter to enjoy what the store has to offer. Any cosplay is certainly welcomed and encouraged, however.
“This store is for anyone who loves magic or is curious about unknowns,” said Hillery Errett, operations manager or “chaos coordinator” for The Cloak and Wand. “Our ultimate goal is to provide everyone who walks in this door with an experience that will have them leaving happier than they walk into the door. We want to be a place for people to leave the ‘real world’ or Mystic when they step inside.”
The concept for the store came from the mind of owner Ellie Greenberg, a businesswoman who also owns Alice in the Village and Alice at Patriot Place in Foxborough, Mass. Those two stores each have similar models while drawing inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.”
The Cloak and Wand targets a slightly different audience, offering unexpected surprises and twists to entertain even those just passing through.
There is a fireplace and custom-made tree decor finish; three animated paintings; a wall filled with wand choices of all shapes and sizes; numerous spell books and other wizarding materials; Dungeons & Dragons memorabilia and game materials; and a “dark corner” with curiosity cases containing porcelain dolls, shrunken heads, skulls and even a crow preserved in 1941 through taxidermy known as Edgar Allen Crow.
Then there’s the potion drink bar, a place for customers to tap into their imaginations to create the drink of their dreams … and every combination comes with a personalized recipe sheet to know exactly which potion, whether a “truth serum,” “mind eraser” or something else entirely, that they’ve managed to create.
The store’s potion experts said all drinks begin either hot, with hot chocolate, or cold, with seltzer, before the customer chooses from a wide array or fruit, sweet and other flavors. When you order your drink, don’t forget to add in the fairy dust.
Waterford residents Nick and Molly Ciambotti, who visited the store Thursday with their 4-year-old daughter and Harry Potter-lover Margot, said they were impressed by the wide array of offerings and unique visual elements the store had to offer.
“Our daughter loves Harry Potter, so this is right up her alley,” Molly said with a smile. “We had come to the village a week ago and there was such a line, we said ‘we have to come back and check it out.’”
Margot plans to dress as Moaning Myrtle from the Harry Potter series for Halloween this year, the excited young fan exclaimed, and her sister -- Molly is pregnant -- has already been tapped to go as a Mandrake, also known as Mandragora.
Margot said she loved the store and would definitely want to come back in the future.
As the new location continues to welcome customers, Errett said the store plans to expand what it has to offer and learn more exactly what type of products the “wizards and witches” throughout the region may want.
If the store continues to have the level of success that the first week has brought, Errett said there is a possibility that Greenberg could consider expanding by opening a second location, or could look into offering other themes. She cautioned that customers shouldn’t get too far ahead of themselves, however, as the top priority is providing every customer with a fulfilling experience that will make them feel welcome and make them want to return.
“We are here because we want to share our passion,” Errett said. “We want this to be a place where everyone can just relax and enjoy.”