Couple starts eclectic shop for clothing, furniture, partying

Partying at Pērle

When Pērle isn’t selling clothes or furniture, it could be hosting a party. The shop is located on Tērbatas iela in Rīga. (Photo by M.L. Studio)

Strolling down the bohemian end of Tērbatas iela near the intersection of Matīsa iela in Rīga, one’s eye is drawn to a glittering sign above a shop and lounge called Pērle. The business is the brainchild of Žanete Skarule, a former MTV Latvia VJ, and Edijs Vucēns, who used to manage an extreme sports shop.

On their return from travels in the United States last year, they noticed empty shop fronts appearing everywhere and decided that the time was right—with cheap rents and a cooperative landlord—to fill one of those locations and bring an idea to life.

Pērle is unconventional. The place is a combined café, furniture shop, clothes shop (with new clothes as well as “clothes with experience”), bar, social platform and more. The furniture and clothing, sourced from Berlin and Latvia, has an 1980s theme.

As nearly everything in the shop is for sale, the ambience of the place constantly changes. The table where you sat your coffee or wine down yesterday may not be there the next time you come in. In the evenings there could be a concert on or a film night, an art event or a party open to anyone. The clothes rack is on a pulley system and gets raised above everyone’s heads to open up an area for partying.

Because money was in short supply after the couple’s travels, there was a strong motivation to be creative. The shop was set up with friends helping out with the painting, the knocking down of walls and with ideas. As many people in Rīga cannot afford new things now and are not in a position or willing to pay huge prices for labels, the shop is finding its niche.

A mezzanine chill-out lounge in the shop has free Wi-Fi. Here patrons can contribute to the shop’s blog using a typewriter and paper. The result is placed on the blog board in the shop.

Like many other people starting a business in Rīga, Skarule and Vucēns have faced bureaucratic wrangles. The sign apparently didn’t suit the streetscape or the historic nature of the building. The approval for the sign finally came through on opening day and was still being screwed on as the first guests were arriving.

Issues with having music playing also were encountered, as there was one institution to go to regarding copyright, another to get permission to play the music, with a separate payment to be made if it’s played off a computer rather than from the original disc, according to Skarule and Vucēns. Then come the fines for not having this or that, though there doesn’t seem to be any booklet or one-stop-shop to get information about all the permits one needs or what to watch out for when starting a shop. 

The store has a friendly and artistic atmosphere and seems to provide the answer for the female customer wanting to drag an unwilling male partner with her on her shopping trip. He can sit down, have a drink and watch the passers-by on Tērbatas iela through the large store windows, while she tries on different clothes. Problem solved.

Pērle is located at 65 Tērbatas iela in the central part of Rīga and opens at 11 a.m., closing at 9 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, midnight on Wednesdays, and 2 a.m. on Thursdays to Saturdays. However, when the atmosphere has been really good on a Friday night the last guests have been known to exit at sunrise. Sunday is Pērle’s day of rest.

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