Little Istanbul, WRJ’s Newest Store, Opens Today

Jackie Oktay gets the spices ready.

What first hits you is the subtle smell: a blend of exotic spices, inviting but impossible to pin down. A few steps in and it’s your eyes that don’t know where to land. There are glass lamps everywhere, brilliant points of azure and emerald and orange. There are glistening ceramics, boots made from old kilim remnants, suzani hand bags and belts, pillows with intricate ottoman motifs, shelves of olive oils and wines, carpets off to the side, a small station for Turkish coffee and teas. And the centerpiece: a glass-encased counter with 24 casks of spices piled high.

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After years of planning, months of preparation and weeks of passersby popping their heads in to ask when they’ll be open, Little Istanbul, the new venture from Tuckerbox owners Vural and Jackie Oktay, is finally here. Putting it together, Vural says, was like piecing together a puzzle. "This gift shop idea came since the day we opened the restaurant," he says. "With the lights, the spices, the olive oils and cheese, Turkish wines. People would ask for the lights, for the candle holders, they'd say, 'Can we buy a bottle of Turkish wine?'" And then, back home in Turkey, he’d see carpets and kilims from villages all around the country and think about bringing them back to Vermont. At his restaurant, he’d think about the earthenware casseroles used for cooking everywhere in Turkey. Slowly, the shop took shape in his and Jackie's minds. 

Now you can see the results. Here’s a quick glimpse. But really, you need to wander in yourself. Little Istanbul will be open from 10 am to 6 pm, Tuesday-Sunday.

Visitors to the Tuckerbox wanted to buy the lamps. Now they can.

Handbags made from kilims

Boots made from old kilims

Leather bags, made by a master leatherworker and his students.

Finely wrought pillows.

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