KEARNEY — Erica Covey believes in the power of healing, and in the crystals, gems, stones, jewelry, yoga practices, reiki and more that promote it.
She is the owner of Olde Town Alchemy and The Urban Retreat, two adjacent businesses at 1917 and 1919 Central Ave.
Olde Town Alchemy offers crystals, jewelry, candles, rings with precious stones, mugs and beaded bracelets, among others. Covey likes to describe it as “an eclectic spot to find a bit of everything to support your holistic lifestyle and help you create your best life.”
The Urban Retreat sells books, spiritual adornment items, fair trade gifts, apothecarium herbs, jewelry, home decor and custom teas. It also includes the ZenDen, a dim, soothing space with deep pumpkin-colored walls where she offers yoga.
Another room, painted in deep turquoise, is where clients can get reiki and massages. Guided meditation, crystal healing and raindrop therapy are also offered, all by appointment. A three-hour full-moon ceremony is held every month as well.
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“This was an extended part of my whole dream of having a healing space. Being holistic, I wanted so much to incorporate in-person spirituality of holistic healing,” she said.
Colorful stones, each with their own healing properties, are available at Olde Town Alchemy.
A multi-level healer
Covey has been a practicing healer for more than 20 years through nutrition, herbalism, energetics and crystalary, as well as traditional nursing.
On her Olde Town Alchemy shelves are crystals from across the world. Incense, one of her most popular items, comes from China, Russia, Brazil and Sri Lanka. Her gem buyer purchases gems from Jaipur, India, and brings them back to Kearney, where Covey selects the ones she will sell. She looks for uniqueness, quality and beauty.
Business is booming. She has 3,000 Facebook followers. She ships products to every state in the U.S. and internationally.
Erica Covey displays the deep blue walls and softness of the room in which massages are offered.
She also does a live Facebook show during which she sells crystals and jewelry and explains their origins, their metaphysical properties and how to use them. “I answer questions and save all my new material for that week so people can get to see it,” she said.
“I really trust that the universe will show me what is needed and guide me in directions I need to go,” she said.
New healing options
It all began many years ago when Covey’s mother was dying of cancer. “I knew there had to be more options to healing than just the western medical model,” Covey, a Kearney native, said.
She began exploring and doing research on the internet. She became an apprentice to an herbalist in Omaha who kept leading her to new paths of learning.
Her mother passed away before Covey had the opportunity to try her healing practices on her, but Covey believed she was being led to learn more. She studied at the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota and has trained with a group of medicine women in northern Minnesota. In 2005, she earned a holistic nutrition certification online from the Australian College of Sciences.
As she learned about various kinds of healing, she also became a registered nurse, She has been an R.N. for 15 years and served as director of nursing at Good Samaritan St. John’s in Kearney. “There is room for both approaches,” she said.
The universe speaks
Married and the mother of two, Covey knew from a young age that she wanted to own her own business. Raised in Kearney, she earned a business degree from a college in Omaha, then moved to Minnesota. One of her first endeavors was owning a juice bar at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.
When she returned to Kearney 15 years ago, she ran a natural foods store, but she soon realized people were not aware of the importance of health foods and organic foods and materials. Because she was knowledgeable about these topics after her studies in Minnesota, she realized doors were opening to allow her to share them.
A collection of necklaces, each featuring a crystal with special significance, can be found in the Olde Town Alchemy.
Covey began informally by sharing small crystals on Facebook. She was so well-received that she soon needed a space for her inventory and an established place where people could pick up their purchases. “The universe said, ‘Here you go. You’re needed to create a space for like-minded followers,’” she said.
Business takes off
In the summer of 2019, she used $4,000 to start Olde Town Alchemy, and it took off. “It just grew exponentially by word of mouth and social media,” she said.
In early 2020, when COVID-19 invaded, her business quadrupled. “People were looking for anything they could get their hands on for healing. They recognized the need for holistic health during this time. It was not just physical illness; people were broken spiritually and emotionally. They were looking for answers,” she said.
Pillows, bags, colorful shirts and more line the Urban Retreat walls.
She launched FaceTime shopping to make easy and safe for people to get what they needed. She also did a lot of educating on Facebook about energy and wellness. She advised readers on how to boost their immune systems and how to cleanse their space.
Last July, when space next door to Olde Town Alchemy became available, she opened the Urban Retreat, which provided space where she could offer yoga, reiki, massages, raindrop therapy and more.
She did all her own renovation, turning the old electrical office into an oasis of colorful calm. She put in adobe walls and painted them a pumpkin orange. She ground up crystals and put them into the paint, along with an abundance of oil. “That will hold the energy and beauty in this space,” she said.
Products with a purpose
She sells only “products with a purpose,” either fair-trade products or ones that support a worthwhile international organization. “I do a lot of outreach to other communities,” she said.
This classic gumball machine is filled with tiny colorful stones. A handful is available to customers for a single quarter.
One of Olde Town Alchemy’s most fun items is an old gumball machine full of all kinds of stones, such as turquoise, black tourmaline, opalite, hematite, garnet, amethyst and more. People can put in a quarter and receive a handful.
Covey also sells air plants, small growing things that do not need soil, just water, warmth and light. Hers come from Guatemala. “They live off the air. They get a bath once a week,” she said. She has similar plants from South America sent by a customer who visited there.
This sign and a sun catcher welcome clients to areas in the Urban Retreat where yoga, reiki, massages and more are offered.
Covey also sells CBD, which she studied after her mother was diagnosed with cancer. “I love the fact that the CBD I sell is grown by someone here in town. I buy it from her personally,” she said.
She has 10 employees (“a great team”) and “a great community supporting these businesses. I have faith that I can create whatever they need,” she said.
12 Nebraska shops worth checking out
Marah’s Treasures is at 304 Broadway St. in Taylor in Loup County. The shop carries gift items and fragrances, plus life-sized plywood figures made to order, and is open Thursday and Friday afternoons.
The Most Unlikely Place
The Most Unlikely Place, 205 Main St. in Lewellen, is just a short drive from Lake McConaughy and is open Wednesday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It closes for the season from mid-November to mid-March.
The combination bistro/gallery serves breakfast and lunch as well as offering a wide variety of fine art. Sculptures, jewelry, paintings and more are available.
Fort Cody Trading Post
The Fort Cody Trading Post, 221 Halligan Drive in North Platte, has a variety of merchandise. The store is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. “We have one of the best selection of western books anywhere, handmade Native American jewelry and arts, T-shirts, toys, Minnetonka Moccasins, retro soda pop, candy, hot sauces, cook books, Nebraska-made items and food, stuffed animals, souvenirs, cards and much, much more,” the store’s Facebook page boasts.
Marshall Custom Hats
Marshall Custom Hats, 214 Staples St., in Arthur features handmade hats made by James Marshall. “It’s amazing that about 42 percent of my customers are repeat customers,” Marshall told Tri-State Livestock News last year. “Once I get them in once, they’re usually back for another one.”
Hollywood Candy is in Omaha’s Old Market at 1209 Jackson St. The store specializes in “hard-to-find retro and nostalgic candies of the past” and has modern-era candy as well. It has a large collection of PEZ dispensers and retro toys and novelties.
Brown Sheep Co. Mill Store
The Brown Sheep Co. Mill Store, located at 100662 County Road 16 in Mitchell, is attached to the mill and sells the company’s yarn “seconds” and other crocheting/knitting supplies. The company’s yarn is known and sold worldwide. One benefit of the mill store is “seeing all the wonderful handpaints that our handpainter tries out when developing new color ways. Because these hanks are one of a kind and generally not reproduced, they are not offered to our retail customers for purchase,” according to the company’s website.
The Cottage Inspirations shop in Cambridge, 710 Nasby St., features quilting supplies as well as home decor items, including antique furniture, Gooseberry Patch cookbooks and McCall’s Country Candles. The shop is owned by mother and daughter Melody Brown and Samantha Jones.
The Antiquarium and Bill Farmer Gallery, 309 Water St., is in Brownville and sells used, rare and out-of-print books. The store offers some 150,000 titles and is housed in a remodeled former grade school. It specializes in foreign language books, cinema titles and fiction. The store began to 1969 in Omaha, moving to Brownville in 2008.
Master’s Hand Candle Co.
Master’s Hand Candle Co. in Tekamah, 3599 County Road F, has more than candles — delectable chocolates, flowers, home decor, shopping, gifts, jewelry, purses and diva wear. The shop’s website declares it “every woman’s dream store.” The store is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
North Platte Art And Gift Gallery
The North Platte Art and Gift Gallery, 516 N. Dewey, is open Tuesday through Saturday and has local contemporary art in a variety of mediums. The enterprise began in 1987 when a group of local artists rented a vintage downtown storefront. One of the five galleries hosts monthly competitive art shows.
Park Avenue Antiques
Park Avenue Antiques, 515 N. Park Ave. in Fremont, has furniture, dishes, linens, home decor and books, as well as a multitude of signs. The shop is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
The Keeping Room
Its website describes The Keeping Room as “a fusion of stylish antiques, unique holiday and home decor, unique fashion, food and drink and a friendly atmosphere.” The Nebraska City store is at 717 Central Ave. and is open Monday-Wednesday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Thursday-Saturday 10-7 and Sunday 1-4 p.m.
Yesterday’s Lady, 113 N. Fifth St. in Beatrice, features vintage fashion in the restored 1887 Schmuck building. Proprietor Susan McLain has clothing from the 1800s to the 1960s.
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