In 2010, a neonatal nurse of 40 years encountered a business concept that changed her life overnight.
“I wasn’t looking or aspiring to retire, but I also knew I didn’t want to stay too long,” said Shirley Ritter, sole owner of The Fairy Store in Lakewood and efairies.com. “I heard about this place called efairies.com and wondered what it was about.”
Ritter made an appointment, and after a brief introduction, instantly purchased the company. “It wasn’t a dream or an expectation; it was just meant to be,” she said. “I’d been wrapping babies all my life, and now, I wrap fairies.”
A fairy godmother
The company Ritter purchased had been selling online since 2001, starting as a cottage business in the founder’s Tumwater home. Growth and inventory requirements forced the business into her garage and then off-site to a retail storefront. At this point, the founder decided to sell.
“She saw my white hair and told me I could be a fairy godmother,” said Ritter, who turned in her retirement papers shortly after the purchase.
Ritter retained the company’s legacy brand, efairies.com, which was already known worldwide. She also took steps to register The Fairy Store, using the brand at a larger retail shop she would move to in Lakewood in 2014. According to Ritter, the move brought her closer to home and afforded the business with “a much larger footprint to showcase the inventory.”
Surrounded by fairies
The Lakewood storefront is open six days a week, and e-commerce fulfillment also happens there. Chances of seeing the fairy godmother are high, since Ritter routinely mans the shop, interacting with customers. “I still feel like I’m helping people,” Ritter said. “There are no bad days at The Fairy Store, and it puts people in a better mood.”
The mood-lifting magic also is added on the shipping side. The shop ships gifts purchased inside the store anywhere in the world, and, according to Ritter, “Each item gets packed with loving care, and a bow is placed in every box to enhance the customer experience.”
The store also is liberal with sharing its fairy dust, whether the customer is a grandparent adding to a grandchild’s fairy garden, or an avid collector.
A product for everyone
One significant business change Ritter made was enhancing inventory. What was once only fairy-related books, figurines, statues, and clothing has turned into an eclectic mix of memorabilia. “I invited the rest of the enchanted realm in,” Ritter explained, eyes twinkling. “First, I brought in gnomes, and they were well-received, so we added unicorns, dragons, mermaids, and even a few nice trolls and witches.”
Like many retailers, Ritter said inventory and shipping are her biggest challenges. She also confirmed having access to smaller merchandise has helped the shop meet the price point of its market. “We try hard to bring things in that everybody can afford, and we also source items for special orders,” Ritter added. “We can’t have everything, so ordering the right inventory is our focus.”
As far as best-sellers, Ritter said, “We sell a lot of wings!”