Alchemy: Louisville’s Only Marvelous, Magical Olde World Emporium!

Explore this new, mysterious curiosity shop which has suddenly materialized on East Market Street that seems to have sprung right out of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley!

Step up, my friends, step up. Step up to the marble columns outside of Alchemy at 415 East Market Street in downtown Louisville. Let your eyes take in the turn-of-the-century font etched onto the front window glass: “Tonics and Treasures! The Marvelous Magical Olde World Emporium on Market!”

Step inside. The first thing that hits your senses are the scents of exotic tonics and otherworldly potions that fill the air just before your ears pick up on the dreamlike music being pumped through the shop’s stereo system. In my case, it was John Williams’ score to the Harry Potter films. As your eyes become accustomed to the soft, natural lighting and star shaped light fixtures, you find yourself in a waking dream world of fantasy and imagination.

I’m not kidding when I say that Alchemy looks like it could have been magically transported from one of Universal Studios Harry Potter attractions in Orlando directly to East Market Street across from McDonald’s due to some accident of inexperienced sorcery or mispronounced spell. A wizard’s mistake is Louisville’s gain in this instance!

The current shop hours are from Monday through Saturday from 12PM – 6PM. The shop appears to operate mainly on magic. There is minimal electricity. You won’t even find a modern cash register or office phone on the premises, but the owner can be reached at (502) 540-3015.

I had a chance to speak with store creator and owner (and probably sorcerer), Ricky Moores, over the weekend and get the tour of his singular retail brainchild. Moores was born in Danville, Kentucky, but was raised from a toddler in Louisville. His most recent career adventure has seen him as a food stylist and stage designer for the food advertising business, but his creative impulse has seen him working for Disney in the past, once even interviewing as a Creative Director.

Locally, you may remember his work on one of his very first jobs working for Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour in the Mall St. Matthews, where he designed and built the cave-like tunnel that customers passed through to transition from the ice cream restaurant area to the magical candy shop.

“My goal with Alchemy is creating a space that evokes memories and experiences, and that activates all the senses from the moment you walk in the door,” says Moores.

Moores’ influences, from Harry Potter to the Wizard of Oz to Disney’s Haunted Mansion, are all on full display at Alchemy, but everything he stocks is handmade or created by small family businesses. You might think Alchemy is the end result of a childhood dream, but Moores insists it was more a result of a mad impulse of delight!

“We opened about three months ago on Derby weekend,” he relates. “You would think I spent years planning this place, but honestly it just sort of popped into my head last year. I spent more time dealing with the zoning boards than I did coming up with the concept. There really isn’t anything else like this in Louisville.”

No truer words have ever been spoken. Moores took me on a brief tour of his emporium, starting with some of the tonics in jars. You’ll find Bourbon Maple Syrup that Moores says, “isn’t just for pancakes. It’s good in cocktails, on meat or ice cream.” You’ll find scented oils, lotions and soaps, including a handmade Bourbon Soap.

Alchemy also carries incredibly realistic stuffed animals and puppets. “The memories and imagination of our childhood live inside all of us, but most people won’t let themselves show it,” says Moores. The stuffed animals, some of them life sized, are made by a small company in Australia and all of them have wire armatures inside that allow them to be posed for display.

Moores also intends to carry a lot of books. Right now, he stocks the entire Ologies Series (Dragonology, Monsterology, Vampirology, Illusionology, etc.) and various Harry Potter volumes.

“I’m expecting a large shipment of Halloween related books next week,” he says. “I’ll be carrying the entire ‘Bunnicula’ boxed set, some volumes of Edgar Allan Poe and a set of Steampunk Tarot Cards.”

“I’ve also got a shipment of what I hope will be high quality skulls on the way,” he adds. “Good skulls are very hard to find. I’m looking for skulls that are detailed and well made, but also affordable. It’s hard to get both!”

“We live in an age of over consumerism and over consumption,” says Moores. “There’s so much stuff out there, and all of it is crap!”

“What I want to do is give people a place to discover things that they wouldn’t  find anywhere else,” explains Moores. “For example, a company called NECA recently made a limited edition of Golden Ticket replicas from ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ and there was a version of which they only made 36, and I have 12 of the original 36 on the way right now.”

I noticed a series of paintings from Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride sitting in the corner. They are replicas of the four paintings found in the “Stretching Room” near the beginning of the ride. I thought that Moores had probably bought them at the Disney Store or through one of Walt Disney’s limited Haunted Mansion collector’s events, but it turns out that he painted them himself!

I consider myself somewhat of an expert on Disney’s original haunted attraction, but Moores’ replicas certainly fooled me. “There are actually many different variations of the Stretching Rooms paintings because they were all hand painted, not copied,” he explains. “There are the ones they made for the Anaheim version, the Orlando version and then the ones for Phantom Manor in Paris are completely different. No artist can ever paint the same face exactly the same way twice, so there are small differences in all the paintings.”

Alchemy and its inventory are constantly changing. Not only is Moores planning to change the stock and atmosphere of the store for Halloween, but he showed me some of things he plans to carry for Christmas including an incredibly detailed golden dragon ornament carrying a candy cane.

This magical emporium of tonics, books and creatures is a unique escape in Louisville’s downtown landscape that I think all Halloween lovers will want to discover. Tell ‘em the Phantom of the Ville sent ya!

The Phantom of The Ville

Write a Review


Comments are closed.