Michele Manasse had dreamed of one day owning a gallery. In 1983, when the original Fireworks Gallery in Pioneer Square, Seattle, went up for sale, she decided to make her dream come true. She took the sum total of her savings—$7000—and purchased the then two-year-old gallery from its original owner, potter Steve McGovney.
At first dividing her time between her new gallery and her full-time job as a senior urban planner for the architectural firm NBBJ, Michele began stocking Fireworks with merchandise she described as
practical objects with a playful edge, focusing in particular on showcasing the work of talented local artists from the Pacific Northwest. Success of her venture soon permitted Michele to quit her job and devote herself full time to her gallery.
Reinvesting her earnings into Fireworks, she was able to open a second retail location in Westlake Center in downtown Seattle in 1985. This store has moved three times since then to its most recent rebirth on the main floor opening the summer of 2013, coincident with significant remodeling of the mall itself.
Since then, Fireworks has grown to include eight stores in the greater Seattle/Bellevue area, including three locations at Sea-Tac Airport: the first opening in the Central Terminal in 2005 and expanded in 2018; the second, opening the summer of 2011, now located in the North Satellite; and the third, opening in D-Gate in Spring 2018.
Fireworks is proud to have been voted best gift store in Seattle for four years in a row by voters in KING5 Evening Magazine's Best of Western Washington*. From its modest beginnings featuring the work of a dozen talented local artists, Fireworks has since grown to feature products from over 300 nationally and internationally acclaimed artisans and studios, gaining notice as a leading gift retailer as well as a leading, woman-owned business in the Puget Sound area.
The medium is not as important as its ability to be functional and entertaining, states gallery owner and Chief Firecracker Michele Manasse, and to this end, she continues to look for fun, unusual, and functional merchandise to fill her galleries, embodying Fireworks Galleries' motto,
Celebrating Art in Life.
*2012, 2014 Western Washington statewide winner; 2013, 2015 Western Washington statewide runner up, top placing Seattle-area business.