Different Turkish towns are known for their handiwork on different goods, like hand-painted plates or hammered sterling silver jewelry. Bulent Bekcioglu, who moved from Turkey five years ago, goes from town to town hand-selecting merchandise for Karavan, his Short North shop.
Different Turkish towns are known for their handiwork on different goods, like hand-painted plates or hammered sterling silver jewelry.
Bulent Bekcioglu, who moved from Turkey five years ago, goes from town to town hand-selecting merchandise for Karavan, his Short North shop.
The entire country, however, is known for the "evil eye" stone, which resembles a blue eye and is used to protect those who display it. "Every house, every car, every business has it," Bekcioglu said.
Karavan, then, is full of good luck. You'll find rings that jingle with a cluster of rainbow-colored evil-eye charms, necklaces braided with the tiny blue eyes, and giant window-catcher-like discs ringed with blue, white and black.
"If you are born with a blue eye, you are thought to be born with your good luck charm," said Bekcioglu, pointing out that most Turks are born with brown eyes.
Bekcioglu, who's also an Ohio State language professor, sees himself as a bridge to his home country. He's especially proud of introducing Columbus to the evil-eye stones. Since he opened Karavan upon moving to the United States, they've become something of his signature, and he hands out tiny evil-eye pins with each purchase.
A selection of copper jewelry is among his most popular offerings - second only to the evil-eye merchandise. Spiral-shaped earrings, cuffs and rings in carved and painted copper fill several displays on a low trunk.
Bekcioglu recently started selling some of his merchandise at Global Gallery in Easton, but there's still plenty more to see in the Short North store.
Hand-blown glass lanterns catch light (and eyes) in the giant window that faces High Street, brightly colored hip scarves for belly dancing fill a wooden cart, and embroidered over-the-shoulder bags hang near the entrance. Rich scarves of many colors and patterns cover one wall.
The handspun wool floor runners and area rugs displayed on a rolling cart in the far left corner of the room are so popular that Bekcioglu now designs and requests rugs to be made specifically for the store.
Fashions that you'd find on Turkish streets right now hang alongside the rugs, including harem-style cotton pants and lots of embroidered and sequined tunic shirts for men and women.
"I'm trying to be a fair-trade guy as much as possible," he said.