Kingfield business owner Terre Thomas works magic in the Kingfield neighborhood
Terre Thomas wears a ball gown at work. The Kingfield business owner has a sizeable stash of colorful old gowns. She likes used bridesmaid dresses best.
“It’s not a costume,” said Thomas of her unusual daily attire. “It’s what a modern-day fairy godmother looks like.”
Thomas truly believes she is a fairy godmother and few who know her will argue. Providing encouragement and inspiration is the essence of a fairy godmother, Thomas said, and she does that for people each day without the wave of a wand, though she has several handy.
Thomas’ 3801 Grand Ave. boutique, appropriately named Fairy Godmother, features books, cards and gifts for just about every stage in a woman’s life. Whether a woman is having a new baby, parenting adolescent girls, going through menopause or struggling with the death of a loved one, the store is likely to have something that will help. Fairy Godmother does feature a handful of items for men, but the feminine theme is dominant, from the pink walls and fairy books to the charms and scented candles.
Thomas said she has always had a knack for seeing people’s gifts or talents and helping them to bring those gifts to the table. The ability has caused people to seek her out for encouragement and guidance during trying times, and Thomas doesn’t hesitate to lend an ear, a fresh slice of banana bread and some direction. She calls her assistance “fairy godmother work.”
“I love getting to see people be more than they are,” Thomas said. “It’s kind of a practical, modern-day version of helping people’s wishes come true.”
A gathering place
Though she’s been fairy godmothering for much of her life, Thomas, 47, never expected to make it her business. While working as a writer and consultant in 2003, she purchased the 38th and Grand space to use as an office. It just happened to have a storefront, and she decided to stock it with inspirational items to which she regularly referred people.
It didn’t take long for the space to morph into Fairy Godmother and Thomas’ full-time gig. The store has become a social hub in Kingfield, a place for conversation, community gatherings and women’s workshops.
Fairy Godmother’s door is always open when it’s warm, inviting customers in for tea, cookies or the occasional loaf of fresh banana bread. A guy will pop in occasionally, often in search of a present for his wife or daughter, Thomas said. She does her best to steer him in the right direction.
Her gown flutters when she moves around the store to help customers in search of a book or gift recommendation. She always has one.
East Harriet resident Shannon Loecher recently visited Fairy Godmother to purchase “The Sweet Potato Queens Book of Love, ” a book about enjoying life no matter what happens, for two of her friends going through divorces. Loecher said she called the store to explain her friends’ situation, and Thomas had the book picked out when she arrived.
Thomas specializes in helping people through transitions, and her store has something for nearly any life change one can imagine. A customer can pick up a book to help them connect with God in one section of the store and in another browse through a variety of vibrators to improve their sex life.
Some items seem like they shouldn’t be in the same store, but Thomas said everything is integrated. She recalled how one customer asked what Fairy Godmother’s large statue of the Virgin Mary (which Thomas said blesses the store) thought about being so close to women’s erotica and sex toys, which were maybe 15 feet away at the time.
“I don’t think she minds,” Thomas said. “I really believe we are spiritual creatures, we are fun creatures and we are sexual creatures.”
Fairy Godmother’s newest and most popular department focuses on the sexual issues. Called “Restore the Tingle,” it’s a discrete part of the store that features the adult items, which are each selected “lovingly,” Thomas said.
Like most of the store, the section is women-oriented and meant to help those whose sex lives could use a boost, particularly busy women and those going through menopause.
“It’s about keeping in touch with your sexuality when your body is changing and your life is changing,” said Thomas, who doesn’t hesitate to mention she’s “smack in the middle” of perimenopause, or premenopause. “And people feel pretty comfortable talking to a woman in a ball gown to have explained how everything works.”
Thomas hosts Menopause 101 workshops at her store a few times each year. Sandy Greenquist, manager of United Hospital’s Menopause Center, speaks and fields questions at the events.
Greenquist said a lack of libido is one of the main symptoms of menopause and Fairy Godmother’s “Restore the Tingle” section is a great offering for women going through that stage in their lives.
“Terre is wonderfully versed in all the products she sells,” Greenquist said. “And it’s a comfortable place to be able to browse.”
Thomas also hosts a workshop that involves girls. Dubbed Books and Ball Gowns Jr., the event is for girls in fourth through seventh grade and their mothers. As the event’s title eludes, most participants wear ball gowns, and Thomas always handpicks a book to introduce to the group.
At a recent Books and Ballgowns Jr. gathering, girls sipped sparkling juice out of plastic wine glasses, ate fancy desserts and played games. Thomas read part of “Wild Magic,” a book about a 13-year-old girl who has a talent for communicating with animals. Thomas said she tries to pick books with female characters that are relevant to the girls.
The event was about more than reading. Girls met new friends, moms chatted about their daughters – and Thomas.
“She fixes problems, have you noticed that?” said mother Heidi Zinky of Thomas to a fellow parent. “She fixes problems all the time.”
Zinky, an engineer who said the event was out of character for her, borrowed the ball gown she wore from Thomas. She said she was there for her daughter, Hannah, 10, who she knew was approaching an age when mom would no longer be fun to hang out with.
Hannah came dressed in a sparkly blue outfit and ferry wings. She enjoyed seeing her mom in Thomas’ black gown.
Thomas’ daughter, Maggie, 14, comes to every Books and Ball Gowns event, even though she just crossed the age threshold. Maggie said she’s an honorary participant.
Thomas said she asked Maggie what the purpose of a life was a couple years ago and the response is something the fairy godmother lives by each day.
“She said ‘to make the world a better place and to have fun doing it,’” Thomas said. “That never left me.”
Jake Weyer can be reached at 436-4367 and [email protected].