YELLOW SPRINGS — Walking through Asanda Imports, it’s hard to imagine it in the category of discount store.
Instead of the generic, simple items one would find at a big box discount store, Asanda is full of teak furniture and scarves made from banana leaves.
But the readers of Active Dayton selected the Yellow Springs store as the 2009 Best Discount store in our region, beating out traditional stores like Target and Walmart.
“It made us laugh when we saw who we were up in competition against,” said Molly Lunde, who owns the store with husband, Lee Kibblewhite. “But then again we do try to keep our prices nice.”
Asanda Imports attempts to give customers interesting home décor, clothing and jewelry options at reasonable prices. The items are from Kibblewhite’s buying trips to Bali and Thailand.
Here are some of the current offerings:
Wooden wind chimes, featuring dangling pigs, ranging from $10-$40. From Thailand.
Strands of outdoor lights featuring flowers and angels. $20. From Thailand.
Mosaic bowls ranging from $15-$25. From Bali.
Basket purses with wooden handles, ranging from $10-$40. From Bali.
Colorful tote bags made from recycled plastic for $10. From Bali.
Scarves with flower embellishments. $20. From Bali.
Sandals with jewels and shells. $9. From Bali.
Kibblewhite is actually out of the country shopping right now, meaning new items will be arriving in the coming weeks.
Five years ago, Lunde and Kibblewhite were selling their products at Second Street Market. They went on to sell for six weeks prior to Christmas at a Yellow Springs site.
The landlord who rented them the temporary space had a permanent location and offered it to them.
“So we decided to do it as impractical as it seemed at the time,” Lunde said. “I was pregnant with our second child and my husband was leaving on a buying trip. It was one of those leaps of faith.”
That was October 2008. A year later, the store was picked as a Best of Dayton winner.
The Yellow Springs store is just half of the business. What Kibblewhite purchases abroad is also sold to resort gift stores in Florida. So the Yellow Springs store can offer good prices because the goods are bought in bulk. The store also is almost a test site where Lunde and Kibblewhite can tell their clients in Florida what their Yellow Springs customers like.
The goods are handmade from artisans in Thailand and Bali. Some of the items come from small businesses, while others are purchased directly from students at Thai flea markets or longtime artisans in huts in Bali.
Lunde’s favorite offerings are the basket purses. When she and Lee were first dating, they went on a trip to Bali and he encouraged her to not just buy one of the purses for herself, but invest in them for resale here.
“We’re told these are heirlooms that are passed down, so they last,” she said of the baskets’ history. “The basket in itself is unbelievably strong.”
It is appropriate that a basket should be her favorite item.
The word “Asanda” means “prosperity” in the Sanskrit language.
Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2216 or kmargolis@Dayton DailyNews.com.