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Visit Little Istanbul In Vermont To Find Turkish Gems & Delights

Sep 21, 2018 03:26PM ● By Linda Ditch
Are you interested in one-of-a-kind items for your home or to wear? How about pieces that are a bit exotic? Then you’ll want to pay a visit to Little Istanbul on North Main Street in White River Junction. Based on the bazaars of Turkey, this shop is awash with the colors and aromas of the Middle East.

The store is owned by Jackie and Vural Oktay. Jackie is a Vermont native, and Vural is from Istanbul. It was the bazaars of his childhood that inspired them to open the shop. They also own Tuckerbox Restaurant across the street and the Istanbul Kebab House in Burlington.

Vural traveled to Turkey in search of items for Little Istanbul. He sourced a variety of household objects, clothing, and accessories that are unique, handmade items. An array of spices in large bins occupies the center of the store. You’ll also find Turkish wines and candies for your pantry.

“The spices have been a big hit,” Jackie says. “There seems to be a lot of interest in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking in this area. People around here seem to want to try it. We’ve had requests for cookbooks and recipe cards. That’s something to look at for the future.”

You can find hand-etched leather handbags in the shop, plus boots and bags made of recycled kilim tapestry carpets. Also available are ceramic bowls and plates, pendant lights, wall sconces, mosaic candle holders, Turkish towels, and pashminas. And, of course, there are Turkish rugs and carpets for sale.

Jackie says her husband traveled to around 500 carpet and rug venders in Turkey to select the best of the best. She also notes that they are happy to show you what to look for in a quality carpet, such as whether it’s handmade and what region it’s from. “We have some beautiful quality carpets.”

Two years ago, Jackie gave up her career as a cardiology nursing supervisor at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. She says she misses her patients and the people she worked with, but she’s doing much of the same type of management duties. Plus, she says that when you put all your energy into something you love, you don’t have too much time to think about what you’re missing.

 “You’re always taking risks,” she says of opening a store. “But if you don’t take risks, you don’t accomplish anything.”

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