A local businesswoman here has set up a unique concept store selling a wide array of home accessories and gifts, with a place for artists to exhibit their work, a coffee shop, and a space for her women customers to attend social events.
Noha Boukhari opened Tabateek in 2005 with the help of her architect husband and business partner. Her husband reminded her to call the shop Tabateek, a name she has always loved. It is an old Hijazi word for collectibles of great sentimental value.
“My grandmother had a box full of tabateek,” Boukhari told Arab News here recently. “My shop reflects this idea. Things that are valuable may not be basic needs, but are delightful additions.”
Among the products on sale at the 100-sqm store are jewelry boxes, vases, decorative cutlery, lamps, mugs with colorful geometric designs, posters, and dresses.
She first set up the store in Al-Hamra, in the western part of Jeddah. “The location was part of my husband’s office, so rent and other basic requirements were covered.”
She sourced the products on trips with him to exhibitions around the world. “My products are mainly from Europe and the US because I trust their quality,” said Boukhari.
“I learned a lot from him about space, dimensions, and color combinations. I soon became his adviser.”
Her initial idea was for a shop where women could buy things that were not generally available on the market, “while having a cup of coffee.”
When the business grew, she moved Tabateek to a bigger space. This was no easy task because of Jeddah’s high commercial rents. She found the ideal place in a boutique mall, where she fulfilled her vision of a unique concept store.
The move came after a three-year break for personal reasons. “I kept my commercial register, which I am so proud of. It would have been a nightmare restarting the business with the current requirements.”
She then also expanded the shop to include a gallery for artists and events. “Events are my social baby; they are tiring, money- and time-consuming but definitely carry the most social aspect of my work.”
“Anyone can exhibit their products, as long as the price and quality are right.”
Soon Tabateek became a location for social events, including birthday parties. The core idea was for women to “take off their abayas in a comfortable environment and enjoy themselves together or by themselves, reading, talking or socializing.”
She runs the show with the help of six assistants, an accountant and a general manager. A marketing manager is not needed at this stage because the project is based on word-of-mouth publicity.
Boukhari said she has faced several challenges. “Getting adequate training for the staff (has been difficult) because there are simply no institutions that provide this service in Saudi Arabia.”