“Spooky but cute”: inside the Derbyshire Dales shop of magic that casts a spell

“Kindred souls. Eclectic. Proudly weird. Big kids at heart. Everybody who likes the shop seems to have a twinkle in their eye.”
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This is Katie Abey of the Matlock Punnydukes shop describing their customers. Her partner Jeff Cullen, to much laughter, describes them as “Thirty percent loopy, seventy percent no idea what they’ve just walked into.”

Undoubtedly, this shop is a welcoming magical den of surprise. Tucked away in a courtyard off Dale Road, you’re met by a Dalek at the front door, and once inside, nothing can be described as normal.

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Natalee Finch, “Curator of magical goods”, smiles, says “It’s a happy place. People come here to feel uplifted”. Lisa Murdoch, who with a grin describes her role as “Opening the door and closing it, meeting people”, says “I feel it’s about creating your own reality. Finding magic in the everyday”.

Natalee, Katie, Lisa and Jeff at Punnydukes, MatlockNatalee, Katie, Lisa and Jeff at Punnydukes, Matlock
Natalee, Katie, Lisa and Jeff at Punnydukes, Matlock

Katie, the shop’s “Creative mind”, adds “It’s almost a different version of reality. How it should be”. Jeff, who sees his role as “The tinkering”, butts in with “That’s why it’s got the feeling it’s got. With you three, it’s what you do. I’m the most normal one here.”

The laughter from the other three might debate that, Katie pointing to his tee-shirt. “You’re wearing a top that says ‘I like trains’.” Jeff raises an eyebrow. “You leave the trains alone.”

The positivity in Punnydukes has a near-electric crackle. The value of magical escapism, as Lisa puts it, is “Golden nuggets”. Katie nods, sees it a force against negativity, “Like taking your power back”.

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Certainly, this shop has a power of eclectic. You will find a Tardis in the back leant upon by Professor Snape, a scatter of handmade acorns “with bums”, a “witch library”, candles and mugs, oracle cards, a life-size R2D2, oil burners and badges, art prints and soap, bats and dolls, a flying car in the front yard, and all things folklore, pagan, and occasionally cheeky.

Inside Punnydukes, MatlockInside Punnydukes, Matlock
Inside Punnydukes, Matlock

How did all this come together? Katie smiles. “It was 2018. So, me and Jeff have another business, which is my illustration and artwork, and we’d opened another little shop that had all my artwork in. That was doing well, and we thought it’d be really cool to open like a magical themed shop… And then Nat materialised…”

“Nat came from Cornwall,” nods Jeff. “We were like, we need the perfect shopkeeper for this shop, and it was gifted from the heavens,” says Katie. “We were living in Cornwall”, she adds. Jeff laughs. “Most people come back with a pasty. We came back with a Nat.”

Clearly, when magic is your thing, strange things happen. “I saw a sign saying ‘Magic shop this way’”, says Lisa. “So I was like ‘Oh my gosh, let me go and see what this is!’. And I came in and just fell in love with it. And I remember meeting Natalee, and I just thought ‘I’m going to be friends with this person’”.

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And where did the magic begin? “Growing up in Cornwall”, Natalee says, “It’s a land that’s steeped in myth and magic. So for me that was the catalyst. Then I got into spiritual practices. I don’t really like labels, but I class myself as pagan.”

Natalee and Lisa at the counter in PunnydukesNatalee and Lisa at the counter in Punnydukes
Natalee and Lisa at the counter in Punnydukes

Jeff looks to Katie, says “I think it comes from you?”. Katie smiles, replies “I knew you’d say that, but you never give yourself credit for the creativity you’ve brought… I feel that’s your magic.”

And for Katie? “For me, since I was little, reading the Harry Potter books and Lemony Snicket. More recently I’ve got into spirituality. All that sort of magic.”

“Mine’s from my heritage,” says Lisa. “I’m half Indian, half Irish. And when I started going into my heritage, exploring both sides, the religions, and pagan traditions in Ireland, and merging both of them together. Creating my own identity out of it.”

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These responses seem a perfect explanation of this shop. An extension of themselves, an identity created by many different ingredients. As the saying goes, if nothing matches, everything does.

Katie Abey's room at PunnydukesKatie Abey's room at Punnydukes
Katie Abey's room at Punnydukes

“I have to pinch myself sometimes. It doesn’t feel like work,” says Natalee. “It feels amazing when you know you’re on the right path. Just affirming, and aligned. Yeah,” adds Katie.

And how would you describe your stock? “Spooky but cute,” says Natalee. “A lot of it wouldn’t have a traditional use, it’s just to bring serotonin,” adds Katie. Lisa laughs. “You didn’t realise when you came in you needed a tiny little acorn with a bum on it, but it’s made you happy.” Katie agrees. “And the purpose of a lot of it, is just that.”

And does the kooky Punnydukes crew have an answer to life? Natalee: “To be happy. To enjoy everything you do.” Lisa: “To have a purpose, and to have that passion about something.” Katie: “Spread joy, and try to live mindfully. And love, in every sense.”

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And Jeff? “Live. Don’t just sit and vegetate. Do the thing. Don’t just wonder, do it!”

Speaking of doing it, what advice do you have for someone wanting to do what you guys have done here? Jeff smirks. “Don’t do it! Run away!” The girls laugh.

“Take the leap and persevere,” says Natalee. “In the beginning you worry, will it get busy? And if you just flow with it, it works.”

Jeff inside PunnydukesJeff inside Punnydukes
Jeff inside Punnydukes

Lisa adds “You don’t always have to take everyone’s advice, because some people like to talk fear into other people’s ideas. If you’ve got a vision and a goal, a plan and a dream, you wouldn’t be given that if weren’t capable of achieving it.”

“And make sure that you stay connected to your authentic intention behind it,” says Katie. “As long as you stay connected to the reason why you’re doing it, then you can’t go wrong.”