Hubs of Inspiration
Local Shops Offer Gifts in Many Forms
Looking for a perfect, unique gift and want it wrapped in warmth, goodness and acceptance?
You don’t have to look far. Chances are you’re a short drive from one or more of the many community-oriented shops in Fairfield and Litchfield counties. These shops feature consciousness-raising and/or sustainably produced goods that are also designed to appeal to the human spirit and emotion, as well as our five senses. Visitors can often find items made by local artisans. The variety of products is universally intended to make the receiver—and giver—feel good, lighter and more at peace. Many are designed specifically to help people heal and thrive.
Beyond providing unique gifts—many in the form of crystals, candles, essential oils, Tibetan singing bowls, music CDs and books—the shop owners also bring the community together by offering fundraisers for local good causes, holding educational talks or offering their space as a gathering place for events and healing work. This may include drum circles, craniosacral therapy, massage, Reiki shares and other functions.
Raising Funds for Charities
Some shops in the area are active in raising funds for local causes. Psychic medium Bobby Kitsios, owner of The Sacred Spirit shop in Stamford, is training to be a spiritual master and is giving back to animal shelters and a shelter for abused women. Kitsios recently held a charity event to benefit the Paws Crossed animal rescue in New York’s Westchester County. During the event, he and a group of psychic mediums did readings to help raise money for the shelter. His regular services at the Albertson Memorial Church in Old Greenwich help people connect with loved ones that have passed on.
“As our physical bodies die, our soul lives on,” Kitsios says. “But so does the love we have for those left behind, and bringing that love and memories to the person who is grieving is an act of love on the medium’s part.”
Patricia’s Presents on Route 7 in Ridgefield is another retail store that places emphasis on community giving. The shop holds or sponsors events several times per year to help raise funds for the local animal shelter, Ridgefield Operation Animal Rescue (ROAR) and Ann’s Place, Danbury’s community-based cancer support center. Patricia Polk, Patricia’s Presents owner, attracts many animal lovers with her stock of unique animal-themed goods, as well as fair-trade jewelry and eye-catching artisan items.
“The word community means different things to different people,” Polk says. “I’m proud that over the past few years I have been able to establish a retail store where I have the ability to hold fundraisers for groups doing important work in our area, and where people with common interests—especially animals—may meet and connect.”
In Sherman, Barrie Sachs is celebrating 20 years of owning Happy Rainbows shop. “It’s a gentle healing store,” she explains about the products she sells and the energy of her shop. Sachs started working with herbs and healing homeopathy in the early years, and then incorporated selling teas, singing bowls with their healing vibrations, jewelry, and crystals for energy work and opening up the body’s seven chakras, or energy fields.
When all five senses are stimulated, Sachs says some customers start to share their struggles or release barriers to better living. “That is the joy of having this store,” she says. “People feel comfortable here. You just feel good.” Sachs also wants her customers to be educated about the products she sells in order to understand why and where to use them for the best outcome. She has spread the education to others. At Fish of Woodbury, a senior citizen center, Sachs led a workshop showcasing different teas. She brought in a scientist to discuss the chemical properties of certain teas and how certain flowers, for example, could help heal heart problems.
A teacher at a nearby daycare center brings children to the shop regularly, where young minds are drawn to the spiritual essence of the store. “Children are open, they are so inquisitive and they love to look and touch,” Sachs says. Parents also visit the shop to seek help for a child that might be hyperactive or have problems sleeping. Lemongrass, chamomile and lavender are calming herbs that parents can buy to help calm nerves, for themselves and for family members.
For 19 years, Margaret “Marge” Courtney has brought the vortex energy of Sedona, Arizona, to Ridgefield. In her Touch of Sedona shop, she brings the spirit of Native Americans and positive energy healing in the form of crystals, sage, Buddha statues, pendulums, jewelry and more. Courtney recently opened a second location in Bethel.
She also brings in intuitive readers regularly and offers Reiki to customers in both shops. “My purpose in opening the first store was to make a place that was safe for people to explore their spirituality in a gentle way,” Courtney says. With a big glass window storefront, she says, people walk by and cross the busy main streets of both Ridgefield and Bethel, lured in by a scent. “They might come in and ask, ‘what is that wonderful smell?’ And I’m not burning anything. It’s just a combination of incense and essential oils and candles.”
In Woodbury, The Ruby Tree offers a metaphysical, healing space as well as other functions. Owner Christina Boisits-O’Keefe offers three elements, including a shop, yoga studio, and a space for local practitioners to offer services and heal the community.
Boisits-O’Keefe started offering Reiki to clients, which has developed to an “energy evening” one Friday a month. During such evenings, clients can get a massage or energy work from one of several local practitioners and then the practitioners can work on one another for their own benefit.
The shop sells incense and sage, for example, to help clear negative energy in spaces. Local artisans’ jewelry, essential oils and salt lamps are other popular items. The latter, once warmed, releases negative ions in the air (a good thing) and cleanses the air for healing. The shop also sells festive, holiday items, depending on the month.
Enchanted Realms in New Milford offers shamanic therapy, meditation circles and Reiki, along with New Age gifts featuring items from dozens of local artisans. Books, candles and soaps are also popular, as are crystals. “It’s important to support the small businesses and distributors,” says owner Maya Cointreau. “It doesn’t matter your religion or philosophical background, we have gifts for everyone to help them feel uplifted. A lot of people who are having a hard day come in to feel better,” she says.
Cointreau also has a room with toys for children so parents feel welcome coming in with their families.
Her greatest goal is connecting people to helpful tools and products, whether it is at her shop or somewhere else. “I don’t believe in competition,” she states. “I believe in co-opetition, or cooperative competition. It means the more businesses you have that are similar near each other and that support one other, the better chance it can create more business opportunity.”
When the community starts to feel emotionally fragile, such as feeling the world is unstable, Cointreau starts to organize group meditations for global harmony. She says bringing the community together to find more peace is powerful.
Also in New Milford, Mother Earth Gallery, which has existed for three decades, offers many locally made items. They include Buddhist and Hindu statues, angels, dreamcatchers and thousands of crystals, according to shop owner Leslie Gera.
“Just as early civilization used crystals for divination, crystals still connect many of us to the divine,” Gera explains. “Even though we know that crystals can’t take the place of traditional medicine, they are an adjunct to it. No matter what ails you or what goal you have in sight, there’s a crystal for you. All crystals can help balance your mind, body and spirit. They receive and store energy, and they can shield you from negative energy.”
Mother Earth also offers Himalayan salt lamps and Tibetan singing bowls, which are tuned to the body’s seven chakras, or energy channels, says Gera. The bowls are 99 percent quartz, which she calls “the grandmother of all stones” for cleansing and purification. Gera also holds various workshops—in part to inform people about crystals—and offers a venue for local artisans’ jewelry, woodworking, glass and pottery. As an example, she started to sell a local resident’s paintings this past fall. She donates to local organizations, such as the local police and Habitat for Humanity.
Angela Pascopella is a journalism veteran and contributor to Natural Awakenings.
The Angel Cooperative
51 Ethan Allen Hwy, Ridgefield
Effigy Witch Shoppe
415 Main St, Monroe
285 Litchfield Rd, New Milford
11 Route 39 North, Sherman
Heart and Home Shop at Salt of the Earth Healing Arts Sanctuary
346 Main St, Woodbury
Lantern House: Center for Seraphic Living
1432 Post Rd, Fairfield
Mother Earth Gallery
449 Danbury Rd, New Milford
199 Ethan Allen Hwy, Ridgefield
The Ruby Tree
670 Main St S, Sherman Village,
The Sacred Spirit
135 Clover Hill Dr, Stamford
Touch of Sedona
452 Main St, Ridgefield
125 Greenwood Ave, Bethel