Vendor Spotlight: City Buddha
Larry Collins has a serious case of wanderlust.
It’s a good thing he also has a penchant for treasure hunting and a discerning eye to go with it. Collins has a lot of stories to tell about his travels; all you have to do is get him to stay still long enough to tell you them. He’s a man on the move with a passion for sharing his experiences, so much so that Collins wishes he could take our Night Market organizers with him on his Far East excursions and show us around. In lieu of that, while we save up for the trip, he’ll be joining us at Night Market Cleveland this June as a first-time vendor.
When Collins initially traveled to Southeast Asia in 1996 looking for adventure, he fell in love with the vibrant and bustling markets of Indonesia and Thailand. This first trip would plant the seed for what would eventually become the much beloved Coventry Village staple: City Buddha. In the early days, Collins took a cue from his Far East friends to locate himself near where the action, and the food, resided.
Collins opened City Buddha two years later wanting to share the art, culture, and unique finds he brought back to the United States from his travels. He started out with a modest open-air booth on Market Square where he tested his business before establishing a storefront on W 25th, just a few blocks north of Westside Market. In 2005, City Buddha relocated to the Eastside to return to the neighborhood where Collins grew up.
For the past 20 years, Collins has migrated between countries and built relationships with the artisans and families that furnish the goods he carries in his shop. City Buddha stocks everything from home decor and incense, to accessories, and statues of eastern deities.
From Rod Fai Market in Bangkok teeming with vintage finds, to markets in Bali, Collins has covered a lot of ground and explored many different types of night markets. There are cheeky ceramic boxes depicting things we can’t talk about on this blog, textiles, jewelry, and exotic, even daring, cuisine offered overseas. The markets are filled with unique objects waiting to be found by a meticulous explorer who will treasure them as Collins does those in his stockpile.
“I choose things that move me,” Collins says when asked how he picks what to bring back to Cleveland with him. City Buddha’s guiding principle is that the artisans and workers, whom supply much of the stock within the store, deserve to receive a living wage. “We know our artists and their families. We visit them on our trips and it’s great to follow their progress and see them try new things,” he elaborates.
From the bohemian at heart to the shopper seeking something a little edgy, Collins is always looking to supply something different, but pleasing, to his shoppers. “I just throw a bunch of stuff against the wall and see what sticks,” he says. Among the newer items that have been advertised on the shop’s active Facebook page are pendent earrings starring Godzilla, beautifully crafted kites for warm and windy summer weather, and terra cotta owls perfect for guarding a budding garden.
Even though this is Collins’ first time selling at Night Market Cleveland, he is obviously no novice to traditional Asian markets or even local outdoor festivals. Expect to find the latest trinkets from Collins’ travels at the City Buddha stall, the final Friday of June. He’ll be bringing baskets filled with unique jewelry and accessories. If you’re lucky, he may even tell you the story about how he came across them.
You can discover your own treasures at Night Market Cleveland on June 24th, 2016 from 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM at the intersection of Rockwell Ave. and E 21st Street. For more information about City Buddha, visit them on the web.
Photographs by Breanna Kulkin