Michael Selletto – A Newbury Street Fairytale

Ranked one of the 10 most expensive retail streets in America by Investor’s Business Daily, it’s almost unfathomable to imagine that beyond the fashion couture, Zagat recommended restaurants, and uppity salons, there’s a tiny little treasure of a store unlike any that you’ve ever been in, right at 272 Newbury Street in Boston. It’s a sanctuary from the haughty brands that line the street, a little garden of magic for kids and adults alike. The Fairy Shop features a large collection of Harry Potter products, as well as sterling silver jewelry, dream catchers, fairies, unicorns, mermaids, dragons, Alice in Wonderland, wands, gifts and other curiosities, holding its own in a competitive market, attracting people from all over the world through good old word-of-mouth advertising.

Take a stroll down lower Newbury Street and you’ll know you’ve landed at The Fairy Shop when you start seeing signs posted for a missing unicorn named Alice. In fact, kids and families check into the store regularly to find out if Alice has been seen lately, and The Fairy Shop proprietor, Michael Selletto informs them of the latest sightings and reminds them that Alice the unicorn loves unwrapped candy or chocolates and the best bet for capturing her is for the kids to carry the tasty treats in their pockets when out searching for her. Selletto opened the store more than 2 decades ago after returning to Boston from a two year, extensive road trip around the country where he did some major soul searching. He considered Boston home, if only because his brother did, and he wanted to be close by him. Comfortably settled in Boston, Michael leased a space on Newbury Street so he could open a store, although at first he wasn’t quite sure what exactly the store would be. So, he leased the space and began remodeling it while he waited for the universe to offer him some direction, and a few months later, the universe answered.

It was while taking down the drop ceiling to expose the original ceiling in the space when Selletto found an iron rosette screwed to the ceiling, a trinket used to hang a gas lantern more than 130 years earlier. Branded into the iron rosette was the message that he had been asking the universe for. It said “2 Hope.” It was then that Selletto realized that his store would be an investigation into hope, for himself and for his patrons. That sign from the universe, which Selletto still keeps as a memento in his store, coupled with the book Faeries illustrated by Brian Froud and Alan Lee, were the two major pieces of inspiration which resulted in the birth of a store so unique, inspiring, and magical, that it has outlasted many of the big name brands on Newbury Street. I recently spent an afternoon at The Fairy Shop with founder Michael Selletto to find out what it takes to own and operate a high risk shop on a high stakes street, surviving and thriving through multiple recessions and economic downturns. Here are Selletto’s 4 simple strategies to turning your life and your business into a fairytale:

Good Ship Hope: The Fairy Shop on Newbury Street is located in a commercially converted brownstone. There are bay windows looking out onto the street. Way up in the upper corner of the shop, near the ceiling, you’ll notice a sign hanging with a “^” shape pointing to the street. Michael explained to me that when he first moved into the space, it reminded him of a ship, with the bay windows representing the bow of a ship. He made the “^” sign as a reminder to himself that The Fairy Shop is like his own little ship which heads out every day on a new journey into the unknown. Selletto says that this is a constant reminder to him that he cannot control the outside forces like the economy, the market, or the weather, but he can stay true to his mission of seeking, understanding, and providing hope. Selletto says that when it comes to creating your fairytale, you can’t always control where life will take you, but trust that you will always safely land precisely where you are meant to be.

Cultivate Your Own Garden: Selletto believes that one of the reasons he’s been able to cultivate a loyal following is because he is so extremely focused on his own little garden of magic (his shop), rather than worrying about what all the other stores and businesses are doing around him. Selletto says he fills the store with pieces that are magical to him and that speak to his own soul, and by focusing so intently on just his little 500 square foot shop, and listening to his soul, he’s been able to create something so opposite from everything else on the street (if not all of Boston), that people keep coming back to absorb the magic. Selletto says that if you want to create your own fairytale in life or business, stop focusing on what everyone else is doing, and focus intently on doing what makes your own heart sing. Your best work will manifest when your soul is fulfilled. Stop listening to the competition. Stop listening to what others think. Listen to your soul, to your own intuition, then use those as a guide to create, and your fairytale will come alive.

Do Little Things Extra Well: No doubt, one of the reasons The Fairy Shop is so magical is that there are so many little extras that make it really special for the guests. My 6 year old daughter, Oshyn, who is normally extra shy became a different person while in the shop, communicating with Michael and exploring all the nooks and crannies the store has to offer. Some of the little extras throughout the store include the missing unicorn signs out front, the tiny fairy door adjacent to the main entrance door of the shop, and the symbolic signs throughout the space, like the “^” sign pointing the ship in the right direction. My daughter purchased a plush pony and Michael sprinkled it with fairy dust to give him some extra magic. Jewelry gifts are put into The Fairy Shop boxes which are filled with fresh lavender and fairy dust to make for a magical experience when opened. All the gifts are bagged in special black Fairy Shop bags, complete with purple tissue paper and a sprinkling of fairy dust. Michael says that if you want to create something magical for others, do little things really well, so that it’s clear to everyone that you are anything but ordinary.

Be a Spiritual Warrior: If you want to create your own fairytale in life or business, Selletto’s advice is to become a spiritual warrior. Whether it be God or the universe, believe in something greater than yourself. Selletto says the whole premise of his shop is that there’s a whole magical world out there beyond the realm of what we can see or understand. It is the existence of that world that inspires hope. If fairies, unicorns, and mermaids exist, so too does hope. And if there’s any question as to whether there’s magic in the world, just watch closely for the signs around you, because the universe is speaking to you all day long offering guidance, direction, and even hope. Selletto says that if you want to create your own fairytale, it’s best to start believing in a little bit of magic, because big dreams are a byproduct of taking brave risks to do what you believe is best, working hard to manifest your destiny, and a healthy dose of a higher power to guide you on your journey.

Michael Selletto is an entrepreneur, artist, and spiritual warrior all rolled up in one. Twenty-two years ago he bravely launched a rare, mystical, gift shop in a high rent district on Newbury Street in Boston, even though a store touting fairies, unicorns, magic dragons, and mermaids had no business competing with the pretentious brands all around it. Not only did Michael and his store survive, they thrived, outlasting many of the expensive boxy stores along the street. Perhaps it was because he listened to his inner guide. Maybe it’s because his personal mission of exploring hope spoke to people. Or maybe, just maybe, The Fairy Shop and all the magic enveloped within, are proof that fairytales do in fact come true.

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