A SPOT of retail magic is about to arrive in York's most famous street.

The Society of Alchemists is set to open in the long-empty former Zatchels shop in Shambles tomorrow (November 3).

It's the brain-child of well-known York businessmen Marcus Doyle and Warren Booth, who own the Yorkshire Soap Company and The Imaginarium in Blake Street.

Their new store comes complete with it's own two and a half metre long animated dragon called Ouroboros - a nod to the shops distinctive black and gold branding which features a serpent eating its own tail - the symbol of never ending life.

Marcus explained that Ouroboros is central to the mythical story behind the shop of a group of clandestine alchemists who travelled the world turning the mundane into magic.

He sits on top of the giant crypt of the Unknown Alchemist and guards the entrance to the store which sells a wide range of bath and body products as well as premium homeware, from soy wax candles and diffusers to perfume, bath products and unique homewares, a lot of which is made right here in James Street in York.

Warren said the pair are fans of eighties fantasy films including The Neverending Story, Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal - fuelled partly by Warren's mum winning a Woman's Own prize draw and taking him to see the premiere of The Dark Crystal in London's Leicester Square.

"We didn't want to go down the Harry Potter route, but we wanted the shop to have a feel of magic," said Warren.

"We wanted to create our own sense of theatre. With The Society of Alchemists the story came first with Halifax-based Seasonal Displays making Ouroboros for us.

"Each of our scents for example represents the alchemists' journey."

A quarter of a million pounds has been spent creating the whole brand  with the company now having 10 shops and 105 employees.

In Shambles The Society of Alchemists employs a team of nine who have all been involved in everything from making the soaps to stocking the shelves.

They are currently looking to recruit another four full-time members of staff at the factory.

York Press: The Society of Alchemists: area manager Adam Jagger and store manager Viki PapadopulouThe Society of Alchemists: area manager Adam Jagger and store manager Viki Papadopulou (Image: Haydn Lewis)

Warren said: "We wanted to create the shop because retail is theatre.

"We are people who like people and for us there is nothing quite like being in a shop smelling the product and touching it and speaking to the people who helped make it."

The store has a 'magic miscellaneous' section stocked with candles by Blackened Teeth as well as furnishings and a range of monsterous sweets - with troll's teeth, pixie bones and dragon eggs all waiting to be bought.

The twisted beauty of the shop is everywhere you look - from the 250 drawers of secrets behind the cash register - which itself is a repurposed 18th century Flemish church alter - to the eyes which watch you from the shelves and follow you round the shop.

Before they have even opened they have already had a visit from celebrity historian, Dan Snow.

York Press: Dan Snow outside The Society of AlchemistsDan Snow outside The Society of Alchemists (Image: Marcus Doyle)

The Society of Alchemists opens tomorrow (November 3) at 9.30am and thereafter from 10am-6pm seven days a week.