Bodhi Imports signs hang around the shop's front door.
Bodhi Imports, on the corner of 17th and Sumner streets, provides a welcoming atmosphere for all its customers.

The smell of incense, the local art adorning every wall and the soothing atmospheric music echoing from every corner fill the air of a corner store in Lincoln. This is only the tip of the spiritual iceberg when it comes to crafting the peaceful atmosphere found in Bodhi Imports.

Bodhi Imports, located on the corner of 17th and Sumner streets, sells a variety of incenses, crystals and Eastern-inspired clothing and jewelry. But the store is much more than a niche shop for young stoners and old hippies. Since its opening in the mid-1990s, it has served as a home for a community of Lincolnites, both spiritual and not, to feel safe and welcome.

The shop’s manager, Rebecca Bramer, said the philosophy of the store’s management and employees is to not feel like just another store.

“We are a sanctuary for people that come in, sometimes not to buy anything, but just to absorb the energy of the store,” Bramer said.

The store first opened in July of 1994, and it has changed management a few times over the last three decades. Bramer attributes the store’s homelike nature and energy to Jennifer Bratcher. Bratcher, who Bramer said worked at the store since its beginning, purchased the store from its original owner in July of 2004 and served as the manager until she died from colon cancer in 2015, at the age of 34.

“She was an incredibly light-filled human being,” Bramer said. “She was kind and gracious and happy and always willing to help people. And that’s how she taught me as an employee. So we’ve tried to continue that so that someone can come in and they could be crying and get a hug.”

Bramer said that Bratcher had a love for local artists and craftspeople. This is why, in addition to the materials imported from around the world, Bodhi Imports consigns with and sells works from many local artists.

Sher Brophy is one local artist who has her work sold through Bodhi Imports. She said that Bratcher always wanted local work to be available and affordable to everyone. She said the heart of Bodhi Imports has always been the peaceful and cheerful vibe that it carries.

“There are people that come in who don’t necessarily buy anything, but the people there know them. They give them a safe harbor,” Brophy said.

Brophy said that Bodhi Imports has been home to a loving community since it opened in the 1990s, and though it has changed over the years it will never go away.

“People change, the shop has changed, but the flavor is still there. All it’s done is get more gumbo, it’s just gotten more flavor,” Brophy said. “I think Bodhi will be around forever.”

Sarah Reed, an assistant manager at the shop, said that though she never met Bratcher, her energy is a big part of what makes the store so special.

“We run this store in Jen’s honor. All of us do,” Reed said. “Every time we leave, when we lock the story we say ‘Bye Jen!’”

Reed said that part of the good vibe of the store comes from the sacred altar in the corner that is a couple hundred years old. She said Brachter’s ashes are on that altar, and that they view it as her taking care of the store and watching over them.

Bramer said Bratcher brought her sensibilities and spiritual self to the store, and that she’s to thank for making it such a special place.

“It’s an inclusive store. Everyone is welcome, whether they’re transgender, disabled or have some challenges mentally,” Bramer said. “If we went out of business, there would be a significant number of people that would be bereft they didn’t have a place to go that was so welcoming.”

Senior, Journalism and Film Studies Major, Culture Reporter for The Daily Nebraskan