SHERMAN – With the holiday season upon us, Barrie Sachs – a passionate herbalist and creative business owner – has much reason to celebrate.
Happy Rainbows, now in its twenty-first year of business, is all decked out for the occasion. Shoppers can select from a plethora of unique gifts – and at the same time – find many enjoyable ways to relax and destress from the hustle and bustle.
Located at the Sherman Green Marketplace, 11 Route 39 North, Happy Rainbows is a thriving community gem that attracts both local and regional customers from all over the Candlewood Lake region, New York border towns, and New York City, too.
Walking into Happy Rainbows is an escape into a colorful and peaceful world. The walls are lined with educational books, handcrafted jewelry, semi-precious stones, and artisan trinkets of all kinds. Suspended from the ceiling are handcrafted chimes, mobiles, and crystals.
Many of Barrie’s customers want to learn more about what can make them feel better physically, emotionally, and spiritually. She said they oftentimes would like to sleep better, relax, destress, and be in a better state of mind.
“When people come in they feel good, they calm down, and we talk a lot. In talking, we find out more about what herbs and crystals to use; or find natural alternatives to their anxieties and minor ailments such as homeopathy, aromatherapy, meditation and many more,” said Barrie.
Happy Rainbows is best-known as a gentle healing store that offers herbs, mixtures of herbs, and healing tea mixes. Barrie enjoys sharing her passion for herbs and knowing firsthand what their natural healing properties can do.
What’s continues to be popular during cold and flu season are sinus beads, an echinacea tincture, and tea blends that help with respiratory and lung problems, and the immune system.
Brigitte Bentley, a Sherman resident, came into Happy Rainbows on a mission. “I have a cold and knew this was the place to come where I could find something here, and I did. I’m buying Sniffy Beads with eucalyptus, lemongrass and peppermint that will promote better breathing,” she said.
In the right, rear corner of the store is a dedicated tea room filled with an extensive assortment of loose teas and accessories. Barrie is an expert at mixing teas to create her own specialty blends. She offers a wide assortment of green, black, herbal and mixed loose teas in the $2 to $8 range.
Although most of her teas and ingredients are bought from local, organic herbal farms, she also imports from exotic places. “One of my top-sellers is the organic Genmaicha from Japan. It’s a green tea with rice. I also try to stay as local and organic as possible. However, I enjoy bringing in lavender from France. I also get Siberian Ginseng from Russia,” she said.
Barrie also sells a lot of soy candles from Vermont that are made with essential oils and cotton wicks. Patchouli, Sandalwood, Ylang-Ylang, Lemongrass, and Frankincense are some of her most popular essential oils.
She carries a large collection of jewelry in any price range as well. The new jewelry is made by local craftspeople and she’s always looking for new vendors. The estate pieces are exquisite, and she sells a lot of old amber pieces.
When the drycleaners next door closed five years ago, Barrie jumped on the opportunity to expand her business. With double the square footage, she added a private massage table and meditation room, along with a small meeting space for classes.
She now offers customers onsite access to massage therapists, acupuncturists, reflexologists, and Reiki healers. “All of the healers work with me and help people. I enjoy working with the caring, healing people that are talented and gifted,” she said.
Barrie also organizes educational opportunities offsite. Many of her outings are walks in the woods or to local herbal farms where students learn from herself, and other experts, how to gently taste and grow native, wild herbs.
Most importantly, she teaches people how to respect the herbs and believes in them. “Herbs are potent healers, but you have to know how to use them and not abuse them. They can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. I also get very excited when young people come in wanting to learn all about them,” she said.
Kathy Carson, a New Fairfield resident, first entered Happy Rainbows 20 years ago. “At the time, I had chronic sinusitis and bronchitis. The antibiotics weren’t working. Barrie recommended the Cold Care capsules, what I call ‘Miracle Pills,’ and they worked!” Ever since, Kathy was hooked, and she visits the store often.
Kathy also does a lot of energy work with her own crystals and consigned part of her collection with Happy Rainbows. “Barrie’s crystal massages are wonderful, too,” she said.
When Barrie isn’t managing the storefront, she’s out and about collaborating with community organizations. She enjoys organizing crystal singing bowl concerts, tea education classes, and blueberry studies at places like the Sherman Senior Center and Happy Acres Farm.
She regularly attends herbal conventions, mineral and crystal shows, and local craft fairs, too.
Barrie’s personal journey into the world of herbalism, where she studied and grew her own herbs for several years, is how it all began, and is her source of inspiration.
Barrie first set up shop inside a tiny 250-square-foot cottage next to the library. She carried mostly homegrown herbs, teas, and accessories. Jewelry, homeopathy, aromatherapy, and crystal massage wands, too. Within a year, she added friendship balls, books, and jewelry.
Since adding square footage was out of the question, she took full advantage of the potential outdoors. “I began to cultivate a small garden outside. I started to grow herbs there, too, and was amazed by how fast they grew in rocky soil. They grew like magic and the garden became huge! This is also when the fairy festivals started. The kids started to visit me after school every day. It was a great spot,” she reminisced.
Ten years later, Barrie relocated to her current location because the library was expanding and needed the land.
Happy Rainbows isn’t Barrie’s only success story. Prior to moving to Sherman from Long Island, she owned a children’s boutique shop for 20 years. “jp’s factory was a well-known, beautiful place in Manhasset. I closed the store because I love herbs and wanted to live on a farm to study and grow more of them,” she said.
HAPPY RAINBOWS HOLIDAY HOURS:
Open 7 Days a Week in December, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS:
Tuesdays: Energy Work with Helene – 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Wednesdays: Crystal Class with Kathy – 6 p.m. (Call for other available times.)
Saturdays: Sound Healing, Reiki, or Readings with Khem, 12 noon to 4 p.m.
Readings and Reiki with Wendy, Readings with Pina, and Massage with Peg.
This Meet the Merchant feature by Alicia Sakal was originally written for The Sherman Sentinel, a bi-monthly publication that has served the local community for over 70 years.
Photos: Alicia Sakal