Shop Talk: Karavan – Treasures from Turkey
Summer is a time when travel is in full swing – people pack their bags and book their airline tickets in search of colorful adventures to magical cities such as London, Paris, and Tokyo. But for those Columbusites who are landlocked this summer, there is a shop in the Short North that will make you feel as if you’ve stepped into another country: Karavan. Founded in 2004 by Bulent Bekcioglu, Karavan is a shop that specializes in authentic Turkish goods, from jewelry to scarves to colorful carpets; there is truly something for everyone.
When I first walked into the store, I was met with a barrage of colors, sounds, and scents; there were swaths of richly colors fabrics everywhere, while the sounds of Turkish music and the scents of tea and coffee wafted through the air. Bekcioglu was very friendly and open upon meeting me, even offering some authentic Turkish coffee and tea before our talk. One we had settled in, Bekcioglu began to tell me about the background of himself and his store.
While his store is fascinating to the eye, Bekcioglu has an interesting background himself, he currently teaches Turkish at Ohio State while also running the store, two things that he loves.
“Teaching at Ohio State and working in the shop allows me to talk about my country all the time, so it’s great,” he said.
But before his job as professor and store owner, Bekcioglu started out working as a dentist in his native Turkey.
“I was living in Istanbul working as a dentist and decided one day that I didn’t want to do dentistry anymore and started looking for something else to do,” he said. “Then this came up and I decided to take it.”
Bekcioglu said that most of his customer base is made up of tourists, who always make a stop by his shop to see all the authentic Turkish items. And the items are definitely authentic, as Bekcioglu travels back to Turkey about once a year to buy items to bring back to sell in his store. While all his items are beautiful, Bekcioglu said that his best sellers tend to be his lanterns; beautifully illuminated in an array of colors and shapes, the light reflects off the colored glass, and gives off a soft, romantic, exotic aura.
Before I take my leave after our talk, Bekcioglu stops me and places a glass evil eye charm in my hand.
“To keep the evil spirits away,” he says with a wink.
Karavan is located at 771-B N. High Street, and can be reached by phone at 614-291-4438.
For more information, visit www.karavancolumbus.com.
All photos via Karavan.