Twenty-two years ago, Theresa Araki had a booth at Juneau’s public market she called A Little Bazaar. This year, under the same name, she opened a consignment, vintage and antique shop right by the Juneau Hotel.
When people first enter, they usually have to take a moment to absorb everything, Araki said.
The store fits the name. Upon entering, people will see a little papillon running over to greet them and then, well, quite a lot – from both old and new household items like china, afghans, linens, and ornaments, knick-knacks, lamps, furniture, and art – things draped, hung, stacked and standing all over the downtown store like wares at a market. It’s an explosion of color, glitter, and patterns alluring the eyes, and the effect is a little bizarre.
Arkai grew up in Juneau; her family runs DeHart’s in Auke Bay. A Little Bazaar is her first business. It’s a store she has wanted to make for more than five years, she said. She frequently shopped at other local consignments shops and spent time at vintage and antique shops down south with her husband when she travelled, disappointed she couldn’t bring as much as she wanted back to Juneau.
She didn’t decide to open the store in “an exact moment. There were a lot of things I had to get together,” Araki said.
When her husband got his retirement insurance from the State of Alaska, she knew she would be able to quit her day job with the City and Borough of Juneau’s engineering department.
“That was like the first light bulb,” she said. “Things started falling into place in my life and I thought if I don’t do it now, I’m never going to do it.”
A Little Bazaar has been open since mid-September.
“This was way more work than I had anticipated. There’s so much work and so much work for my husband too. It really is a family business; I could not do it without his help. But I love it, and I love being here.”
When Araki visited shops in the Lower 48, she’d ask for advice from the owners, who she said were quite open with her. “People would give me their home numbers and say call anytime.”
Araki scrounges online for unique items to fill her store, and she and her husband also bring many things back to town on their travels. All the furniture and quite a few items come from around town, too, either that she has bought or that “pickers” have brought her.
For consignment, the split is 50/50. She’ll even take couches and sets of furniture. She likes to see a picture texted to her first at the store number or sent as a Facebook message before the person brings it in for consignment. Whatever the item is, it has to be floor ready, she said.
“It’s just stuff that I like”, she said about her purchasing habits. Sometimes, she admitted, the temptation to keep things for the store for her home instead is strong. “It’s my husband’s nightmare,” she laughed.
She likes to arrange the store to show customers the possibilities, like with her china settings.
“There’s not many styles I don’t like,” she said. “If I got one oddball piece of a really oddball style I’d probably look for other things to go with that. And I would sell it and show off how that would work with other things.”
She rearranges items in the store at least once a week, she said, which helps business and keep the appearance fresh; she’s had people buy items the day she rearranged.
“I always thought I’d like to have four or five houses so I could have a different style, so this kind of accommodates that,” she said of A Little Bazaar.
To answer what her one house looks like, she indicated the interior of the store: “This.”
Araki always envisioned A Little Bazaar as a community place, where people could come in on their lunch breaks and hang out at one of the tables to read a magazine. No one has, she said, but the door is open. She wants to set some tables out front where people could also sit in the summer, weather permitting. She hopes to eventually get a food cart out front as well – not run by her, but still part of A Little Bazaar.
In the future, she wants to start hosting workshops, like painting in the evenings (she’s into oils and acrylics), or inviting others in with talents they wish to share. “I want to keep it household. But art is household stuff.”
After Christmas, she wants to refurbish furniture she has stowed away in the back. With a background in the arts and a lifetime dabbling in refurbishment, she’s gotten quite good at it, she said.
She didn’t realize the whale statue was going in right by the Douglas Bridge when she secured A Little Bazaar’s location on 1117 W. 9th St., so she’s now considering the tourism angle as well.
“After Christmas I’m going to be looking for whale stuff,” Araki said, then laughed.
But for right now, Araki is working on making a kids cupboard, a place where kids can find a gift for their parents or grandparents for around $10.
A Little Bazaar is open Wednesday- Friday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday from 12-4 p.m. and is closed on Monday and Tuesday. Araki can be called at 500-8392 and contacted through the store’s Facebook page.