Animal magic

Touch of Sedona is definitely attuned to animals.

After all, a scampering bundle of fur greets customers on many a day.

“She’s the little celebrity on Main Street,” says shop owner Marge Courtney.

But Lulu, her beloved Pomeranian, is just the first sign that this longtime Ridgefield shop has a deep appreciation for the diverse residents of the animal kingdom.

Further proof is plentiful in the light-filled, L-shaped boutique, from paintings filled with eagles or moose to a wood carving dotted with wolves to horse-themed ceramics to a vase decorated with bear silhouettes.

And while those motifs might be expected in what’s billed as “a unique boutique & spiritual center” that pays homage to Native American and Southwestern culture, shoppers will also find a shelf filled with statuettes of elephants with their trunks turned up (believed by many to be a sign of good luck).

Surroundings also feature artwork, home goods, statues or jewelry depicting butterflies or mice, cats or whales, lizards or cranes, owls or rabbits, ducks or cows, foxes or chickens, lions or seals… to just start the list.

“I think I have just about everything,” Courtney says with a laugh, adding she’ll often get a request along the lines of, “‘I know you think this is going to be a dumb question. Would you have any porcupines?’ And I say ‘Oh, yes’ (and) I go to my porcupine shelf.”

And while we can’t tell if she’s joking or not, we do know that for nearly 20 years Courtney’s been overseeing the shop that truly does come together in a cohesive aesthetic where animals of all kinds live side by side.

“It all fits in because the Native Americans believe different animals bring different spirits.”

She likens it to the way different crystals are believed to have different healing properties — and the shop has plenty of crystals, crystal jewelry and inspirational products such as angel figurines and heart-shaped medallions.

But, Courtney says, her goal was to create a boutique devoted to Native American culture from the start — something that surprised her.

Courtney, born on the East Coast but raised in California from age 6, was not planning to go into the retail business — especially selling items solely with a Native American theme, which was what the boutique was devoted to in its earliest days.

It did, in fact, surprise her, seemingly coming out of left field.

“It’s one of those things that come to you, and it won’t go away,” she says of the unexpected inspiration.

Courtney was retired from the airline industry, not looking for a second act, but a plan soon came together.

What to carry was natural, based on her travels and supplemented by sources she quickly discovered.

“Sedona was in my memory bank and in my heart,” she says.

And while she might not travel as much to stock the boutique these days — she has developed a network of scouts who visit the Native American reservations, for example — she still has strong thoughts on what will be offered in Touch of Sedona.

It will, she says, include “anything that’s spiritual that I love, anything that I’m attracted to.”

The shop also offers spiritual readings, which may include “animal intuitives,” that are conducted in a serene healing room. Drumming circles, which are considered a music therapy of sorts, are also offered.

And Courtney is always ready to share stories or explain the symbolism her items hold, whether customers are looking for a meaningful gift or simply something to guide, soothe or perk themselves up.

A bear, she says, symbolizes strength and inner direction.

“Think of what a bear does. It hibernates, going within.”

A turtle, she adds, is believed to address the pace of something — “step back and think about it and step out when you’re ready to go” — while birds, which by nature soar overhead, are all about “being able to see.”

Inspiration, it seems, is everywhere. Courtney mentions the collection of Native American fetishes, small animals crafted of marble or other stones.

“Any animal that they see or they revere, they would carve,” she says of the Native American artists.

And that approach clearly resonates with Courtney.

“I think animals are really so spiritual,” she adds.

And in Touch of Sedona, they’ve all found a home.

“There’s no end to it,” she says, looking around her shop. “I’m so glad it all works.”

Touch of Sedona is at 452 Main St. in Ridgefield. Visit touchofsedonaridgefield.com or call 203-438-7146.

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