June 16, 2015

Shop Spotlight: Rala

I'm back to introduce you to another fun shop!  The only thing I could think of that I know about Knoxville is how good The Tomato Head is and then I got really hungry thinking about it.  But I haven't visited since before today's guest was on the scene, so now I have another pin in my mental map. Take a peek inside Rala!

For starters, please tell me your name, what shop you represent, and where you are located:

Hello! I am Alaina Smith, and I manage a small shop in Knoxville, TN called Rala.


Are there any specialties your shop is known for?


We specialize in fantastic gifts and letterpress items. We love finding unique and funky printed paper to carry. It's fun to shop for cards for Rala, because I always have people in mind when I write an order.

What are five things I'd be sure to see if I wandered the neighborhood where your shop is located?

First of all, you would see the historic Tennessee Theatre across the street from us. You would also run into a man that dances and plays saxophone ­ he's fun. You would pass through Market Square: a large open shopping and dining area with a fountain and a stage. If you walk an extra block away you will see the radio station, WDVX. They are home to the Blue Plate Special, and they play lots of local bluegrass and country music. Lastly, you would see the Sunsphere. It's a giant gold disco ball in the sky and Knox locals love the thing.


What occasions do you think are most underrepresented in the world of greeting cards?


Good question: Probably "like" cards. Everyone makes love cards, but not everyone is in love. Many people are only in like.

Are you an artist or craftsperson yourself? If so, please tell me a little bit about what you create:

I am! I make simple leather goods and geometric jewelry under the brand name Cold Gold. I sell in
the store, on etsy, and through etsy wholesale. (( coldgold.etsy.com ))

Does your shop have any resident pets or mascots?

I wish! We've always joked about a shop cat. We do have a teeny tiny plastic pig that we hide notes to each other on. Where did that little guy go?


Describe the most exciting or weird customer you have ever had.


Oh goodness. We are in a downtown area, so we meet all the weirdos down here. There is a man that parks right outside our store and buffs his blue go cart car for hours.

If your shop had a coat of arms, what images would be on it, and what would your motto be?

There would be many cats. Like a herd of cats. And Dolly Parton, but dressed as a Catholic saint. And the coat of arms would probably be in the shape of a pie. Our motto would be something along the lines of "If you can't snuggle it, sing along to it, or eat it, what's the point?"


And lastly, because I'm Betty Turbo, I must ask: What is your favorite dessert?


Shoo­whee. That's a difficult question. My fave is angel food cake with whipped cream frosting and blueberries. It's the best. But I don't know, have you ever put a donut in the microwave? (Long live Liz Lemon).

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