Boutique History

Imagine a placid lagoon of pale green water on which floats the perfumed petals of the lotus flower. That is the ancient Sanskrit meaning of the word Shalimar. In Ithaca, New York Shalimar has come to mean a place where you can go to find beautiful and unique fashions, jewelry, gifts and accessories from around the world.

House of Shalimar had it’s first incarnation in the early sixties when Abdul Razak Sheikh, a recent immigrant from Pakistan, sold hand crafted gift items from his beloved homeland to the upscale boutiques in NYC and at craft fairs throughout the East and Midwest. After marriage to Emma Lou, a trip around the world and the birth of his first child he decided to open a retail shop at the gates of Columbia University in NYC. Two years later having decided that NYC was not the place to raise a family he began looking for the perfect “college town”. A customer suggested Ithaca, NY. While sitting on “LibSlope” one perfect June day Abdul decided that he had found paradise and rented a storefront that weekend on College Ave.

Old Photographs

House of Shalimar hit Ithaca like a monsoon off the Arabian Sea. It was August of 1972 and Collegetown was the perfect location for Ithaca’s first “Indian” Boutique. The owner, Abdul Razak Sheikh, was Pakistani of course but that didn’t make any difference.

The first House of Shalimar was located where Ruloffs is now. The shop stayed open until 11 o’clock most nights. Granny dresses, long wrap skirts, draw string pants, kurtas, sheepskin coats, incense, tapestries (of course) and buffalo sandals were hot items that first year.

Over The Years

The following year a second store was opened Downtown, check out the parking meter in front of our first Downtown shop. For the better part of a year East State Street was in total disarray while the Ithaca Commons was being constructed. House of Shalimar has been one of the longest running retail businesses in the Downtown Ithaca business district.

It has been the goal of Abdul Razak Sheikh and his wife Emma Lou to offer Ithaca and the Finger Lakes region a dynamic alternative shopping experience. We are very proud to offer our customers unique, quality merchandise at a reasonable price. Visit House of Shalimar when you next are in Ithaca.

Eclectic, humorous, useful, alternative.