An assortment of products and colors meets the eye at the entrance to Unique Bazaar, a store that opened in October of this year at Lake Anne Village Center.
Irma Rodriguez, 45, said she opened at Lake Anne because of family connections to the center and a personal relationship with the place and the people.
As for why she chose to sell products that range from princess dresses to capes and jewelry, Rodriguez has one simple answer: "I like to shop. I enjoy it [working] even when I am not making sales."
Rodriguez left her job of 18 years at the Virginia Employment Commission to start her own business. She said she has received positive feedback from community members about Unique Bazaar, her store. "People are coming back" to shop, she said.
Most of the products in the store are handmade in Mexico, Rodriguez’s birthplace. She keeps in touch with her roots, keeping business connections with groups of single women in Oaxaca, Mexico, a place where her parents are from. In particular she works with four communities of single women to aid them to become self-sufficient. Rodriguez pays the women up front, and they produce clothing, woodcarvings and other products from scratch.
Unique Bazaar also supports the National Breast Cancer Foundation, with 10 percent of its sales dedicated to the organization. Rodriguez, a lymphoma survivor herself, said she knows what it is like to fight the disease and wants to help others who are going through the ordeal.
Before moving into her space at 1604 Washington Plaza, Rodriguez had her shop on Washington Plaza during the Farmers Market season. Eve Thompson, Lake Anne resident and market’s point person for merchants, said Rodriguez’s tent, and Rodriguez herself, was "enormously popular" during her two years on the plaza. "She did very well and we are thrilled to see her open a shop," said Thompson. She said Rodriguez is invested heavily in the community and she has interesting products, which should help ensure her success at Lake Anne.
Unique Bazaar is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 to 4 p.m. on Sunday. For more information contact the store at 703-787-9050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.