Posted Feb 19th, 2020 in Retail Roundup
“Barouke” sounds French and conjures up images of something mysterious. According to Jannett Vadies, who co-owns Barouke in the Old Wilmington City Market with her husband Gene, the name just came to her in an inspirational moment when she was planning the business. That was more than 25 years ago when the couple was looking to put down roots after years of traveling. Gene formerly worked for the United Nations.
Jannett grew up in Jamaica and her father was a furniture designer and craftsman who was also interested in antiques. Wood carving is a popular trade in Jamaica and local artisans create sculptures and artwork from mahogany, rosewood, cedar, ebony and other woods to sell and export.
The hardest wood in the world, lignum vitae, also grows in Jamaica and is used to make chopping boards.
While forming her business, Jannett decided to sell wood carvings from Jamaica alongside antiques. The chopping boards sold so quickly, she struggled to keep up with the demand. So, she decided to make beautiful wood the main focus of the business when she opened Barouke in Downtown Wilmington in the 1990s.
Because it became more difficult and costly to import wood, Jannett and Gene now work mostly with American craftsmen, including some local artists. They also import distinctive jewelry from Costa Rica.
Popular products include the lamps, which are handmade in New Mexico, accent tables, folding placemats, kitchen utensils, bowls and trivets. And, although crafted from different woods, the chopping boards are still big sellers.
You can still see a couple of items made from lignum vitae in the shop, but they are more for display than for sale and make interesting talking points. One piece in particular, a female sculpture, was crafted by master carver, Danita Davis. You can only imagine the amount of work involved in creating this because of the skill required to work with such a hardwood.
Barouke is the place to go for exotic woods crafted by various artisans. The lamps, mirrors and tables make great accent pieces in any home. Other products made from pewter, copper, silver and leather make fabulous gifts for friends and family or you can just buy something for yourself and appreciate its beauty.
Hours: Sun- Fri, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Sat & Sun, 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
119 S Water St
Wilmington, NC 28401