By Sue Botos
In the same way its namesake gathered animals, The Ark Too, a newly opened shop in Rocky River, has collected a variety of items from around the world. The difference is, there are many more than two of each kind.
Opened on April 10, this is the first business venture for North Olmsted native Jennette Bando, who decided to bring a taste of the sunny Southwest to Cleveland.
“I left here in my early 20s and just traveled and bopped around,” said Bando during a visit to her Detroit Road store. She said that her travels eventually led her to Santa Fe, N.M., where she spent the last five years working for the original Ark.
Founded in the spring of 1982, The Ark, located in the historic Railyard District of Santa Fe, carries hundreds of books, focusing on all things spiritual, metaphysical and inspirational. The store also sells clothing, accessories and the work of local artisans.
When Bando returned to the Cleveland area to be closer to family and friends, she didn’t leave The Ark behind, but brought it with her by opening The Ark Too.
Partnering with the owners of the Santa Fe store, Bando teamed up with best friend of 20 years Julie Kline, of Fairview Park, to put a local spin on the Southwestern idea.
“She’s my manager. She does everything,” said Bando of Kline. “When I moved back, I was sort of lost about finding a location (for the shop), and she was adamant about Rocky River.”
Kline said she was drawn to the atmosphere along Detroit Road, where the shop is across from the Beachcliff Market Square. “Beachcliff does a lot of events and it’s very family-oriented, and there are a lot of small businesses,” Kline said.
Bando continued, “When she brought me over to this space, I immediately said, ‘This is it.’” She added that it was easy to connect with other entrepreneurs, such as the owners of the Apple Core consignment shop and Erie Island Coffee. Bando said she and Kline are currently providing art for the coffee shop.
The Ark Too’s teal walls and tangerine accents evoke the Southwest, as does the assortment of traditional turquoise and silver jewelry. As does the parent store, The Ark Too carries a wide assortment of crystals, Buddha statues and other meditation aids. Kline said that she hopes to carry an assortment of books as well.
Kline said she wants to grow the inventory provided by local businesses so that it makes up half of the store’s selection, the balance being unique items from around the world.
Currently, The Ark Too has stuffed animals from bijoukitty, by Rocky River’s own Susan Hank, and it is currently negotiating to sell works by a local photographer and ceramicist.
For the international selection, the shop offers a number of fair-trade items, made by people in developing countries. Under fair trade, workers are provided employment with fair wages, training and good working conditions. They receive money directly from the sale of their items. The store expects to begin selling Firefly jewelry from Guatemala in June, and currently carries silk screen and block-printed clothing from Mata Traders in India, which especially benefits women.
“We’re definitely going to be community-oriented,” Kline said.
SIDEBAR: The Ark Too is located at 19361 Detroit Road in Rocky River. Call 440-356-5030.