Former Uptown exotic-goods boutique reopens in Dinkytown

Diane White

Customers will be immersed in a world of jiggling bellies, henna tattoos and live music as they peruse the selection at SaraCura’s grand opening July 21.

Owner Sarah Dorman said the opening will be a celebration of what the store has to offer at its new location in Dinkytown.

“It’s going to be a big party,” Dorman said. The event is tentatively scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Dorman said she chose not to renew her lease at the store’s former location in Calhoun Square a year and a half ago. The location was less than ideal and lacking in space, she said.

“(Calhoun Square)’s dying out. Ö It had an atmosphere of impending change,” she said.

Even without a permanent location, Dorman said she maintained her business by selling goods at festivals like dragon festivals and science-fiction conventions. She also does henna tattooing for special events.

Dorman said she stumbled upon a for-lease sign in a Dinkytown storefront window at the former location of Avalon, a specialty gift shop that consolidated its two locations into one in St. Paul.

Avalon will be missed by pre-med senior Jennifer Hess, who said it was the only store she frequently visited in Dinkytown.

“Nothing sold (in Dinkytown) appeals to me that much. Ö It’s more for eating and coffee shops,” Hess said of the area’s atmosphere.

Anthropology senior Sarah Faltesek, an Avalon employee, said she is just happy a store is taking over Avalon’s former space instead of “another damn sandwich shop.”

She now works at the St. Paul location, which she said is busier and bigger, though it was tough to leave Dinkytown.

“Our boss was getting tired of running between the two stores,” Faltesek said.

Dorman is doing a bit of consolidation herself, by not having to constantly pack her products to take with her.

With an established customer base, she expects to be busy within the first few weeks at her new location.

“I have an e-mail list and a community that knows me,” Dorman said.

She expects University students to be drawn to the reasonable prices in her shop, ranging from $3 to $70 for jewelry, gemstones, belly-dancing supplies and other goods she collects from around the world.

Physics senior David Toyli said he doesn’t shop in Dinkytown and eats there only once or twice a year.

“I have no interest in those stores,” Toyli said, adding he’s not even familiar with most of the area’s stores.

Plus, he lives on the other side of campus in Stadium Village, he said, a world away.

The name SaraCura is a nickname Dorman said she received in Brazil, which means traditional healer.

“I’ve been getting very good responses from people,” she said, adding that her store is the only consistently open belly-dancing supply shop in the Twin Cities area.

Though lessons won’t be offered there, Dorman said she could get people in touch with instructors if they’re interested in learning the dance form. 

Skott Johnson, Dinkytown Business Association president, said he’s looking forward to the clientele SaraCura will bring to Dinkytown, like bikers and belly dancers.

“I’m anxious to see (the response),” he said, referring to how the specialty shop and its customers will affect the culture of the area.

Dorman said she has owned the business for about 10 years but partnered with her friend, Alice Marks, earlier this year.

“(Marks) brings a lot of strengths to SaraCura,” Dorman said.

The two will run the store on their own for the first

year Dorman said, though hiring help is a possibility in the future.