New apothecary shop on S. Tacoma Way in Tacoma opened by UWT student

Handcrafted oddities, spiritual items and the works of local artists, including one youth vendor who makes stickers and clay sculptures, are featured in the shop.

On May 1 a family-owned metaphysical business was opened in Tacoma by UWT Student Katie Scott as the frontwoman and owner of the shop. 

Scott, a soon-to-be Spring Quarter graduate, is finishing her bachelor’s degree with a major in Writing Studies and Creative Writing and a minor in Teaching, Learning and Justice. She is attending her last two classes, all while running a small business and taking care of her children. 

“It felt impossible, and yet I’m now doing it,” Scott said. “Juggling school, juggling four kids, my husband works two jobs, we did not have money set aside to do this. It all seems so impossible and then it just happened.”  

The shop, Black Bird Apothecary, offers holistic and spiritual items from 13 local vendors ranging from crystals, tarot and oracle decks and incense. The shop is a community-centered space, with a free book swap station to support her local reading community. 

“Historically it’s been equivalent to a holistic pharmacy for health and medical wellness back in the day, as the term has changed over the years to be a bit more open to holistic healing–mentally, emotionally, spiritually,” Scott told The Ledger. 

The shop also carries Butterfly Worlds and HoneyBee Worlds, which are small globe terrariums that showcase ethically and sustainably sourced bees and butterflies that have perished in the wild. They were made by vendor and artist @MoonLightBug_ on Instagram, who hand crafts entomology art pieces. 

Scott previously owned a nonprofit organization centered around survivors of trauma domestic violence for about 10 years called the Sharon Ann Foundation, which was named after Scott’s mother-in-law. 

“I am also a survivor of D.V. and so supporting people was something I wanted to continue doing, but I needed to find a new capacity to do it, because it was a lot, being a survivor and doing a lot of education,” Scott said. 

Scott and her husband decided to shut down the 501c3 nonprofit organization in favor of Scott’s transition into helping people heal through a small apothecary business. She began this new journey in 2022, showing up as a vendor to local markets and selling crystals to the public. 

Scott and her husband signed the lease for the space on March 1, which was completely by chance, when they found an affordable space to apply for on Instagram in February, according to Scott. 

“We had looked at retail spaces just to get an idea of it would be possible, and the rent was astronomical,” Scott said. “I don’t even know how small businesses are paying the rent, let alone sustaining their business. It was really disheartening to see how inaccessible it was.” 

Current commercial leasing prices for the South Tacoma Way area range from $2,399 per month on the low end and $13,650 on the high end, according to 

Scott received help from her friends and family, reached out to her potential vendors and even thrifted some items that fit her personality to resell in the shop. 

The mural behind Scott’s register on the back wall of the shop was designed and painted by Nathan Hiatt, the same artist who painted the Giving Garden’s mural at UWT, which was completed on Earth Day for a community project. Hiatt is an Arts, Media and Culture major who is also graduating after Spring Quarter alongside Scott. 

“I was showcasing my art experience in an art class, she enjoyed my style,” Hiatt said. “I have a little shop online, and I think she bought a little bag in the past and then, like two months ago, she messaged me and gave me the offer which is really special.” 

Scott and Hiatt began communicating, then met up to discuss design ideas for the space on the wall. One of Hiatt’s first sketches was completed on March 30, then the final design was completed in the month of April. 

“I visited the shop, I wanted to hear Katie’s story, I learned about her family and that was a huge influence in my design,” Hiatt said. 

The design represents Scott, her husband and their four children, with the smaller crows flying around and below the parent crows. Both Hiatt and Scott believe crows get a bad reputation, despite their intelligence and a huge emphasis on family connection. 

“She’s super strong, I’ve heard so many stories from her about her life and how she’s gotten to where she is,” Hiatt said. “She’s got four kids, and she’s going to school, and starting a business, that’s a lot of weight to carry.” 

Scott wanted to be mindful of the space she was coming into, encouraging community engagement, diversity and equity in her customer base, since the location of 5243 S Tacoma Way is considered a gentrified area, according to Scott. 

“One can easily lose track of time perusing the treasures and other handcrafted pieces that were carefully curated by the owner, Katie,” wrote local Vietnamese American artist and UWT graduate student Tien Taylor in a statement to the Ledger. “As an artist whose artwork can be found on the walls of the apothecary, I can attest to what a huge advocate Katie has been for the art and writing community.” 

“She has been the bridge between my work and those who connect with them,” Taylor continued. “In the short period of time that her shop has been open, she has already found so many homes for my pieces.”  

Scott’s Instagram page for the shop (@blackbirdapothecary_) has over 900 followers, where she shares photos of her space, its features and vendor products. The shop is open with temporary hours on Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

The recently opened metaphysical shop from window view on S. 54 St. in Tacoma. Photo by Cameron Berrens.

‘Featured image’ The mural by Nathan Hiatt features two parent crows feeding four baby crows in a nest. Photo by Cameron Berrens.