BY LEE ANN SANDWEISS
Happy Yak—the catchy name of this tiny shop brings a smile. But just as arresting is the merchandise found within.
Located in the Cultural Building at the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center (TMBCC), 3655 S. Snoddy Rd., Happy Yak opened in 2007 and is stocked from floor to ceiling with traditional Tibetan and Mongolian wares, including scarves, incense, jewelry, clothing, books, and Buddhist ritual items such as statuary, singing bowls, bells, and prayer flags.
Volunteer Lynn Svensson, who supervises the shop, says all of the stock has interesting and remote origins. “Our sources for merchandise include monk-to-monk contact, merchandise made by Tibetan refugees living in India, as well as a few other sources of fair-trade items. Countries represented are Mongolia, Tibet, India, Japan, Guatemala, China, and Korea.”
Because Happy Yak offers items that cannot be purchased elsewhere in town, it has become a shopping destination apart from the activities of the TMBCC, although all shop sales support the center. To boost sales and facilitate cultural awareness, the shop has hosted fashion shows, the most recent one in July.
“In our first fashion show [fall 2011], we presented Tibetan and Mongolian clothing, first as they would be worn traditionally then Westernized, paired with jeans and boots or shown as cocktail attire, for example,” Svensson says.
In July, as part of the TMBCC’s International Festival, which also celebrated the Dalai Lama’s 77th birthday, the shop hosted an international fashion show, which featured models of various ethnicities in their traditional clothing. The event also included booths of merchandise, arts and crafts, musical performances, food, dance, and a silent auction.
If you happen to visit Happy Yak during its business hours and it’s closed, don’t leave, says Svensson. “It’s a totally volunteer-run shop, so if a shift is uncovered, we post a sign on the door with a phone number. Just call and someone in the office will come down and open the shop.”
Store hours are 1-6 pm Sunday-Friday, 10 am-7 pm Saturday.