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The Inner Garden and Del Sol, two stores that have opened in downtown Juneau in recent months, may not have much in common, but they do share the same inspiration: celestial objects.
In addition to selling handmade gifts and art, Shawn Hatt Cohen, owner of The Inner Garden, gives astrology readings and teaches classes on the subject. She also makes bags with designs from the night sky.
"Some of my inspiration is from the heavens," Hatt Cohen said.
Del Sol, down Franklin Street from The Inner Garden, sells a variety of clothing and accessories that bring a bit of the tropics to downtown Juneau. The shorts, T-shirts, hats, sunglasses, bags and hair clips sold by the store change color in the sun.
"It's one of those things when you talk about it, it kind of sounds like 'so?' but when you see it, it's a whole different reaction from people," said Nick Terranova, who came to Juneau to help the Utah-based Del Sol open a store here.
The store has one employee from Juneau and two others who came to Juneau for seasonal work. The other employees are from the company's corporate headquarters in Utah or from other stores in the Caribbean.
Though it caters to cruise-ship passengers, Juneau residents have bought some of the store's merchandise, which is especially popular with children, Terranova said.
"We offer a 10 percent discount to all locals," he said. "I'm not trying to make money off locals. I enjoy trying to give something back. And then if they know what it is and they enjoy it, they don't mind telling other people about it."
Hatt Cohen at The Inner Garden said most of her business is from locals and independent travelers. She features handmade jewelry, cards, bags, etchings and prints from local and Alaska artists such as Diane Anderson, Karen Ulana, and Ursula Spannagel. She also features paper cards and rose garlands from Paula Gregovich, formerly of Juneau and now of Eugene, Ore.
"All of it relates to nature, more or less," Hatt Cohen said. "... I'm not really going after any market, but it does lean toward a more spiritual niche."
Hatt Cohen will offer a beginning course in astrology this month, Spannagel will teach a bracelet bead weaving class, and Hatt Cohen's husband, Robert Cohen, will teach an introduction to the I Ching, an ancient Chinese text that focuses on divination.
The store, and the learning center, as Hatt Cohen calls the educational portion of her business, fulfills a 10-year-long desire, she said.
"It was just kind of a burning urge to do something but not knowing quite what it was I wanted to do," she said.
She opened the store in March, and has taken part in some First Friday gallery walk events using a large room in the back of her store as a gallery. She will join host Collette Costa for several radio spots on KBJZ-FM next week to discuss astrology.
Christine Schmid can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.