Witch-O-Rama Market is a monthly market series joining vendors and shoppers from across the state. This isn’t your mother’s farmer’s market, though; this is a gathering for all things spiritual, esoteric, witchy – a celebration of brujas in their many forms.
Walking a lap around the market, you’ll see everything from crystals to candles to natal chart readings and tarot. Vendors who may have been outcasts in other spaces find their home here, though owner Erica Mascio said the “normalcy” of those selling products throws some visitors off.
“I don’t know what they’re expecting when you hear Witch-O-Rama, but it’s regular, local businesses and they’re like, ‘well, where are the witches?’ And I’m like ‘those are the witches.’”
The sense of community here is strong, which keeps both customers and vendors coming back.
“It’s so welcoming to anyone and everyone, and all kinds of magical practices. And of course there’s some regular vendors in there… We call them our allies,” said Sandy Martinez, owner of Moonlit Crab, a reiki-infused jewelry shop.
Martinez has been vending at Witch-O-Rama since its humble beginnings in Mascio’s mom’s backyard in Pilsen, with only nine vendors. After bouncing from Mascio’s driveway in Garfield Ridge to Pescadon banquet hall in Summit to Blue Island, with pop-ups in between, the market has grown to an average of 35 to 50 vendors and a new home in Berwyn. Growing alongside the market itself are mostly women and femme owned businesses.
“We’re like an umbrella for baby businesses, like the incubator,” said Mascio. “A lot of the businesses [here] don’t have their LLC, they’re just starting off. They’re women who have been doing this on the side for years and really want to quit their day jobs, but they’ve never had a platform and our market has given them that.”
Rocio “Rosie” Villavicencio is the owner of Miel Y Canela Bodycare, a line of self-love healing products she named in homage to her guardian Orisha, Oshun. She has been selling her dressed candles, intention oils, and body butters at the market for two years and said it has expanded her business, with regular customers coming to the market every month to receive a limpia, or spiritual cleansing.
She also now has products in-store in Pilsen at AngMir Hecho Con Cariño in Pilsen – another former Witch-O-Rama vendor. Villavicencio said she’s thankful to the Mascio family, and especially Erica who’s worked hard to build this space.
“I’m so happy and so proud of her for being able to bring this to the witch community, and give us this opportunity to vend like this. Because sometimes with witchy items, witchy vendors don’t do well at regular pop ups,” Villavicencio said.
Martinez said the market has also helped her business grow and helped her come out of her shell.
“It’s helped me learn how to communicate what I’m feeling, what I’m thinking, my creative process, just by talking to people like talking to the customers,” she explained.
This is also a safe haven for LGBTQ+ folks.
Prior to the creation of Witch-O-Rama, Dominic Mascio, whose drag name is the Dommm, vended with their mom at other markets in full drag: reading tarot cards and serving looks. As a not-yet-21-year-old, they shared with their mom their struggle launching onto the local drag scene.
“Their father and I were like not on our watch, even if we have to create that safe space,” said Mascio.
And they did. Drag was integrated into the market from the beginning, but the newly launched Rama After Dark Drag Show exclusively features the Dommm and other local up-and-coming drag performers.
“I think everyone’s story has to be taught, especially queer voices that don’t always get heard. Some will never be heard, and those stories just disappear,” said the Dommm.
The market also plans on taking on resident performers to uplift the hard work of local talent, especially people of color and trans folks.
“They deserve to have something official like the queens that are in Boystown, and to kind of start creating and fostering those communities outside of Boystown,” they said.
The essence of Witch-O-Rama is community, building safe spaces, and in the process, normalizing the people society teaches us to fear.
“That’s the point of our market, is that’s the neighbor next door. That’s the lady you buy your candy from, that’s the person making your tacos,” said Mascio. “This is our community.”
Witch-O-Rama has two upcoming events. Sunday, October 15 the market will open for a family-friendly Halloween market at Blue Island Beer Co., and on Saturday, October 28, the market will host an adult costume party. Follow Witch-O-Rama on Instagram for more information.