Duluth duo fulfills dream through Serendipity

As a mother and daughter duo, Shirley Johnson and Gayle Healy had a dream. A dream they thought Duluth could use. “My daughter does the decorating,” Johnson said. “She truly has a gift.”


Located off of Superior Street in Lakeside you will find this local boutique. With spring in the air it’s no surprise to customers that when they walk into the boutique they will find it filled with an assortment of springtime décor. Each room in the house has its own theme.

“Each season is different and we love changes,” Johnson said.

Both Johnson and Healy’s garage and basements plus two storage sheds are full of items bought for their ‘future’ dream. After a few years of searching, Healy decided to buy the one-hundred-year-old home and turn it into the home of their boutique: Serendipity.

“It’s a long story about the name,” Johnson laughed. “It was the original name I wanted to give my log cabin my husband and I bought in the '70s.”

Johnson’s husband didn't think it was a fit for their newly bought cabin.

“We thought of different combinations of our names together, but then I knew Serendipity was meant to be.” Johnson said.

The store was originally only open two days a week, Friday and Saturday. Gayle had been working at Maurices Corporate in downtown Duluth when they first opened the store in October of 2006.

Two days a week was all that they could handle. It wasn’t until the following May when Gayle decided to put her focus into the boutique.

By 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning, Serendipity’s week has begun. On Sunday and Monday the store is closed, but that doesn’t stop Johnson and Healy from getting out and finding more to contribute to the store.

“We travel to Wisconsin, and southern and northern Minnesota to find things to bring back with us,” Johnson said.

They also go to gift markets in Minneapolis twice a year.

The inventory throughout the store consists of vintage or vintage inspired items. Johnson and Healy work hard to make sure each item in the store has a fair and reasonable price.

“There’s no sense in having a big price on something and let it just sit there,” Johnson said.

Lynn Peterson and her daughter walked throughout the store, looking carefully in each room not to missing an item. Johnson made sure to check in on them as they did their shopping.

“Every once in a while we’ll come in here, especially if there is a gift that I need to buy,” Peterson said. “They have coffee made and music playing. It really is a nice little store.”

In the April issue of the Duluth Superior Magazine, subscribers voted Serendipity the “Best Specialty Store" in the Duluth-Superior region for the second year in a row.

“It’s a blessing to us that our dream has come true and it continues to impact our lives.” Johnson said.

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