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Carolyn Dickson, Lady Dickson

“Carolyn is a caustically funny, caps-loving gif machine with worryingly intense fan obsessions that will likely lead to a stress-induced early death.”

– Jess Emsley

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Sanctuary, a longtime resident in Old Strathcona

Thursday November 17 , 2016

I recently went to Sanctuary, the long standing known-for-all-things-goth store located on Whyte Ave, to write about what they do, who they are, and how they sell everything from capes to Mala Beads to My Little Pony.

Open your mind to the alternative and check it.


My new beads! Photo by Richelle Serink.

A small, locally owned and operated business that can stay open longer than 5-10 years, is pretty impressive. Enter Sanctuary, who has been walking the streets since 1995. That’s 21 years for those who can do basic math. Sanctuary is old enough to legally drink everywhere.

As soon as I walked in the store, I was greeted with happy friendly faces. Once I introduced myself, I sat down with one of the store managers, Sam, who has been with the shop for 4 years now.

Back in the 90s when goth was on point, and ‘on point’ wasn’t a phrase yet, Darrell, who is still part of the business today, opened the store because he wanted to be the first goth/magic store in Edmonton. Nowadays, the store isn’t just targeted towards the goth scene; it’s become a store for the alternative and open minded.

“A lot of people think we’re evil and worship the Devil,” Sam said, “when really, we’re open to all spirituality and religions.” Which was very obvious once I started walking around the store to check out what they carry.


Because they’re a locally owned business, they also want to support other local artists and brands by allowing entrepreneurs to send in their work/products through email. “We’re still retail so it has to be something we can sell. We can’t do consignment but we have local people making bracelets, clothing, art, etc,” Sam says, “There’s hardly any limit of what we will or won’t take because, as you can see, we sell everything!”

In they back, they have part of a wall dedicated to a feature called Artist of the Month, which should be self explanatory. If you have any art you want on display, give them a shout!

A well known brand in the industry is called Kill Star, which sells everything goth. With its popularity, Darrell wanted to bring it into the store and become Alberta’s main hub for the company. They have been getting shipments in steadily since September and will continue for the next two months. With Marilyn Manson’s album Antichrist Superstar turning 20 recently, Kill Star put out a line dedicated to the album. Yes, Sanctuary is carrying a lot of it!


This Saturday, November 19th, there will be a Dark Arts Festival/Fashion Sale going on at Sanctuary from noon to 8:00pm. Locals who either sell their brand in store or have had pop up vendors for Sanctuary will be there. There will also be an art booth set up for people who have been involved with the Artist of the Month. This is the first time Sanctuary has done something like this so it’s definitely something you should check out.

Overall, the store is freaking cool. The people are incredibly nice and without judgement. They talk to the customers like they’ve been friends for years and treat everyone as equals. If you’re looking for dragons, zombie gnomes, steampunk and sugar skulls, books on Wiccan, Buddha statues, candles, corsets, and humour, this is the place to shop.