By Ted Simpson
Pure Apothecary is a recent addition to the Hintonburg landscape that combines a spiritual retail boutique with a cozy cafe atmosphere that seeks to inspire intentional living.
The shop opened at 989 Wellington St. W. in late August 2021, replacing the former Simply Raw Express. This is the second Pure Apothecary location for co-owners Alex Santillán and Dana Ouellette. They opened the Wellington store almost exactly one year after opening the first shop.
Their original location in Aylmer, Quebec shares a building with Café Mulligan, and the pair wanted to recreate that same vibe here in Hintonburg. Pure Apothecary’s second location puts metaphysical supplies like crystals, sage and tarot cards under the same roof as organic, Canadian grown tea, plant based lattes and homemade snacks. The food at Pure Apothecary in Ottawa is all supplied by Cafe Mulligan in Aylmer.
Santillán says that the pair were led to their Wellington West location through spiritual guidance.
“We had this place chosen for us by a medium—they’re one of our good friends,” he says. “And she actually saw the old building down to the color of the brick and into the doors on the side.”
The painted exterior on the shop gives it a very unique look compared to the exposed, red brick that makes up a lot of the main streetscape in Hintonburg. The side entrance is not usual for the neighbourhood either. Santillán says that when they saw it for the first time, it was a gut feeling and they just went for it.
“In the Aylmer shop, it’s about 500 square feet, so we really have no room to expand. That’s when we decided to start looking for another spot that’s a bit bigger and we can do our manufacturing in the same location,” says Santillán.
Pure Apothecary’s line of in-house products include face serums, lip balms, candles, bath bombs and bath salts. Everything else on the shelves is carefully curated from as many local and Canadian-based artists as possible.
Here, at the Ottawa location, you’ll mostly find Santillán behind the counter while Ouellette is watching the shop in Aylmer. Ouellette originally started the business by making products in her own home, a process which grew into the retail chain.
Even through the combination of harsh winter weather and a fifth round of COVID-19 lockdowns, Santillán says the Hintonburg community has been showing their support.
“We’re starting to get a lot more people that know us, word of mouth is starting to spread out there and we get a lot of walking traffic, which is great as well,” says Santillán. “We’re building such a big community already in the short time we’ve been here, it’s just a really good fit.”
As Ontario moves out of the lockdown phase this winter, Pure Apothecary will be available for a variety of in-person, spiritual services as well, including tarot readings, intuitive energy healing, mediumship, astrology reading, full moon and new moon ceremonies.
In that way, the shop is seeking to become a kind of community hub for those in Hintonburg to nourish both their body and their spirit.
To learn more, visit pure-apothecary.com.