Mrs. Muir’s under new ownership

Christine Wringren, of Poulsbo's former Sugar & Spice Tea Company, has taken over Mrs. Muir's House of Ghosts and Magic in Port Gamble and will open the shop full time.

PORT GAMBLE — When Rik Scott and Danya Simkus first attempted to create North Kitsap’s premier paranormal emporium in the heart of Port Gamble, they were excited about the business venture.

But while Mrs. Muir’s House of Ghosts and Magic initially garnered excitement and attention, it slowly faded under the pressure of the pair’s other small businesses.

Now, Mrs. Muir’s is rising from the ashes and set to haunt Port Gamble again.

“The thing that’s been important to me is that it is a community shop,” Simkus said. “There’s a lot of people around here, not just the ghost people, but others too, and they love Mrs. Muir’s.”

That community will continue to enjoy its paranormal resource under the new ownership of Christine Wingren, who previously owned and operated the Sugar & Spice Tea Company in downtown Poulsbo. The tea shop recently closed as Wingren is moving her aspirations to Mrs. Muir’s.

Ghost town

Port Gamble promotes its various paranormal attributes, such as haunted houses, and regularly features ghost tours through the Victorian/Edwardian-esque mill town. Simkus said that, initially, Mrs. Muir’s was created to fit with the town’s ghostly schtick. But Simkus and Scott soon came to realize that the area hosts a variety of paranormal enthusiasts who were excited to have such a resource close to home.

“One reason I wanted to keep Mrs Muir’s going was that I made a lot of promises to people, to the paranormal community,” Simkus said. “It was worth a lot more to me to find somebody to fulfill the promises I made.

“There’s ghosts and psychics and Bigfoot, and there’s all sort of subsets, like groups that meet that love fairies. It’s a wide world [that] I had no idea about. There’s whole groups that each have memberships. They were all excited that Mrs. Muir’s was opening up and they could have a place to meet.”

With Wingren, that community will not only continue at Mrs. Muir’s, but will likely be more stable. The new owner aims to open the store full time and expand.

New owner, new plans

Scott and Simkus operate No. 7 Books and the Bookery in Kingston. They were stretched thin with Mrs. Muir’s and weren’t able to open the business as often as they, or the community, would have liked. The store wasn’t able to stock the paranormal inventory necessary, but the business was up and running and ready for someone else to put full-time effort into it. The business pair decided to sell it.

“I had money offers that were OK and they were decent, but they didn’t want to keep Mrs Muir’s, they wanted to change it, significantly,” Simkus said. “I’ve sold businesses for money before, and the money goes away. This time I tried something different.”

Simkus organized an essay contest to find the new owner. Interested parties submitted essays, and the best one received top consideration. Wingren’s essay won Simkus over.

“She was superbly clear and concise and had experience in business,” Simkus said. “To have this magical frame of mind and a head for business is so rare.”

Wingren wanted to keep Mrs. Muir’s ambiance, but put her own personality into it as well.

“She’s crafting the store toward her own brand of Mrs. Muir’s, which is more fashion and clothing,” Simkus said. “She’s got a wonderful costuming history. I really like her plans.”

In her essay, Wingren expressed that she and her husband, Jim, are very interested in “things that go bump in the night” and wanted to respect the business’ theme. She wrote that she plans to open the store five days a week, possibly seven, and add her flair for costumes.

“My plans for the shop would be this: To keep the mysticism intact and enhance it with those who do professional readings and séances, to have the Gypsy room completed along with a Gypsy tarot and tea leaf reader, have a section for herbs and magical blends, books to support the ghost and paranormal enthusiasts community, custom-blended teas (something I currently do at my Poulsbo shop), Victorian and historical curiosities, and a studio for taking old-fashioned photos of customers dressed in historical fashion.”

Wingren also expressed a desire to restore the house to its original 1800s style. Other ideas include having special events, such as an Edgar Alan Poe Day or Dracula month. Also, adding ghost-hunting equipment to the product lineup and creating a room for oddities and curiosities.