Meet the owners of Hesperia Mystique Shoppe


Alex Hopper, News Editor

Hesperia Mystique Shoppe doesn’t look like much from the outside. 

Adjoined to a tattoo parlor in Sheffield, Alabama the former utility closet is now an unassuming entrance into the metaphysical world. 

The small shop with painted black walls and references to paganism and norse runes, evokes a calming and welcoming energy. 

The two owners, Sarah Benedict and Kendall Gilchrist, occupy a rarified space in The Shoals area – a connection to the “other side.” Benedict, a clairvoyant, offers tarot readings and reiki healings while Gilchrist, stocks the shop with crystals, pendulums and other divination tools for visitors to take home and try themselves. 

Both women, who felt destined for service to others, hope to evoke a guiding, motherly affection 

to all who enter their sphere.

Benedict knew she was different from a young age. Growing up in Dallas, she swapped child-like play for building ritualistic rock circles in her yard and holding clairvoyant conversations with God. 

These tendencies might seem foreign to some but to Benedict, connections to the “other side” were second nature and an extension of her beliefs in a higher power. 

 “Around eight years old, I started getting teased,” said Benedict. “I put everything on the back burner and I tried to be a normal kid.”

Benedict decided to ignore her gifts throughout her teen years and went to college with ambitions of a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. 

“That was a way for me to reconnect again with people and minds,” said Benedict.  “You know, the weird things of life.”

After graduating, life crept in and Benedict found herself married and starting a family – long removed from the thought of her gift. 

“Then I had a crisis,” Benedict said. “Everyone was like ‘oh my gosh’ you need to go see a therapist or a counselor.”

“I was like, no, I think I’m gonna go to a psychic,” Benedict said.  

Benedict’s experience with psychic energy helped her to overcome her struggles and moved her to get her Master’s in counseling. 

“I always felt I wanted to help people,” Benedict said. “I would tell my professors my methods and they said ‘you’re not going to be a counselor. You’re gonna own a crystal shop.”

Maybe with a touch of clairvoyance themselves, their suggestion came true as Benedict bought a deck of tarot cards and began re-connecting with her gift. 

Hesperia came into the picture after Benedict moved from Dallas to Alabama with her family. At a park in Sheffield, she spotted Gilchrist with purple-colored hair and felt she was a kindred spirit. 

“I felt like we could be friends,” Benedict said. “I’m a little weird, she’s got purple hair.”

The two turned out to have more in common than a sense of style. Both were mothers of young children and transplants to the area.

Gilchrist moved to Alabama from the north west and began to grapple with her life’s purpose. 

Benedict introduced Gilchrist to the healing powers of reiki and the guiding powers of divination and set Gilchrist on a path of helping others. 

“When we met, I had decided to get rid of a lot of toxic people in my life and felt pretty alone and vulnerable,” Gilchrist said. “I was looking for purpose and this whole thing just kinda flowed together.” 

In early 2020, the women decided to dive head first into starting Hesperia – a place where other kindred spirits could come and feel welcomed.

“It started off as an office for me but it’s ended up being this incredible space that’s not offered in this area,” Benedict said. “A place for people to come and explore this part of themselves.”

“Many people come in and say ‘you’re gonna think this is weird,’” Benedict said. “I have heard and seen it all myself and want people to feel accepted.”  

Both Benedict and Gilchrist credit one another for being the starting force behind Hesperia – both feeling encouraged by the other. 

Gilchrist feels she is starting a new journey along with her customers. 

“I am learning and we get a lot of people who are new to this too,” Gilchrist said. “I felt like I could do this together with them and that’s what has made it more special.”

Benedict feels she can help others by connecting them to ancient practices. 

“This stuff is actually very old,” Benedict said. “I mean Tarot cards themselves are more than 100 years old.”

“When people see these cards, or crystals or [norse] runes, it helps to remind them of something that they already know,” Benedict said. “That’s why it gets so deep, they just needed someone to remind them.” 

“It reminds me how magical all this stuff really is,” Benedict said. 

Another way the women give back to the community is through consignment. Hesperia features artwork and jewelry from local artists who want to get their start in the mystical world. 

“We love to support local artists and create a space for people to be able to create with confidence,” Gilchrist said. 

Everything in Hesperia goes back to the women’s decided purpose of helping others. In whatever way they can, they hope to help their community to feel supported. 

Over the past year, they have moved their operations out into the community and started their own festivals to celebrate the pagan solstices. 

“When Sarah first helped me find my purpose, I felt like ‘helping others’ just didn’t seem like enough,” said Gilchrist. “We were joking how I had to venture out of these four walls to create the festival so the whole world could be here.” 

In the Summer, the women threw the Festival of Litha, marking the summer solstice. 

“It was so successful,” Gilchrist said. “All of the booths said they did really well – most of them are consignors in the shop.”

“The energy was just really good,” said Gilchrist. “We wanted to make everyone feel included and enjoy themselves.”

In December of this year, the women have planned a second festival to mark the winter solstice, the Festival of Yule. 

“We have another festival in downtown Florence on December 4th,” said Gilchrist. “We want everyone to come out and enjoy local, homemade things.”

This festival will continue to feature many of the shop’s consignors along with traditional winter confections, like hot chocolate.

“Anyone who wants to get to know us or our practices are more than welcome to join us,” said Benedict. 

Benedict and Gilchrist took what could have just been an office space and made it into a space for community connection and spiritual guidance. 

“I really do feel now I have my purpose in life and I feel I can really encourage other people to find theirs,” Gilchrist said. “That’s why we’re here.”