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Mera

65 meters from main square
Mera
Mera, Gavalochori. Luka Tica, Foundation for Gavalochori
Mera, Gavalochori. Luka Tica, Foundation for Gavalochori
Mera, Gavalochori. Luka Tica, Foundation for Gavalochori
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The latest business to open in Gavalochori is Mera, an artisan shop owned by Melissa Rallis. The shop is only a few steps away from the main square, and to get there, look down the street that runs past the Elpida kafeneio in the square. You’ll see the Lourakis Mini Market, and Mera is just past it. You’ll see a colorful sign bedecked with flowers and lemons and lovely items spilling out of its two doorways. “Come in and have an experience,” the shop seems to say, and when you enter, you’ll find yourself exploring a treasure trove of handmade items from Greece and elsewhere, including handprinted linen dishtowels, clothing, jewelry, cards, bags, pillows, and much more.

Mera is housed in a building that was formerly a mini market, a general store, an olive mill, and a stable for livestock. Melissa has preserved some of the building’s history by leaving on the front of the building the old hand-painted sign that says “General Store,” and the large arch in the building still has the pulley system from when it was used for processing olive oil. Melissa has repurposed many items from the market and from her house to create display spaces in the shop. When you visit, be sure to look for the three murals high up on one wall of the interior of the building that were probably created in the 1920s or 1930s. They are still amazingly vivid, and Melissa plans to restore them.

The name of the store, Mera, is derived from the first two letters of Melissa’s first and last names. She is an Australian-Greek woman who was born in Sydney (her parents met when her Greek father, who was in the navy, went ashore in Australia). She has always maintained a connection to Greece, however, spending her summers visiting her father’s relatives in the Peloponnese. Her father wanted to return to Greece to spend his later years but died before he could do so. Melissa feels like she is completing his journey by choosing to make Greece her home and has become a Greek citizen. She didn’t speak Greek growing up, but she is now fairly fluent in the Greek language, although she says she understands more than she is able to speak.

Melissa graduated from the Kensington School of Art and Craft in London in 1992 and works as an artist in a number of mediums. Her ability to move among different artistic expressions and her high level of artistic productivity suggest just how appropriate her name of Melissa is—in Greek, it means “honeybee.” She is a silversmith, a jewelry maker, a watercolor painter, a photographer, and a printmaker, and she has recently begun to try her hand at sewing clothing. She hasn’t yet tried pottery and glass, but those media are undoubtedly in her future. Her surroundings inspire her, and what she sees in the moment, she stops and tries to capture in her artwork.

Melissa has traveled extensively and has made different parts of the world her home. She left Australia in 1984 and has lived and worked since then in London, Washington DC, Athens, Mykonos, and northern California. She moved to Berkeley, California, in 1994 and later opened a gallery/artisan shop there that was the precursor to her current shop. It was called Kiss My Ring, and she owned and managed it for almost 20 years. She closed the gallery shortly before the COVID pandemic because she wanted a change. She also thought it was time to decide where she would spend the rest of her life.  She chose Crete because of its terrain, history, culture, and artisan traditions. She also loved the idea of living on an island—especially one that doesn’t close up in the winter and is large enough so that there is always something new to discover.

Melissa moved to Crete in September, 2021, with a shipping container full of her belongings and her cat. She stayed in Gavalochori for six months while looking for a house and fell in love with the village. There’s something energetic about Gavalochori, she believes, in part because so many people from different places live here. She had hoped to buy a house in Gavalochori, but nothing suitable was available, so she bought a house in the nearby village of Xirosterni, which she has renovated. Melissa has made it her mission to explore Crete and says she often gets lost in her meanderings but always ends up where she needs to be.

For Melissa, Mera offers an opportunity to integrate many aspects of her life. “When you see the shop,” she explains, “you see me.” At the same time, the shop enlarges her own life as it allows many different kinds of people to enter her environment and interact with her in delightful and stimulating ways.

During the summer season, Mera is open every day except for Mondays. Its hours are 10:30-2:30 and 6:30-10:30. The shop is open into early November and is open again the week before Christmas. Melissa is happy to come to the shop by appointment anytime if you want to find a gift. Contact her at +30 69865 09452 or mera53@icloud.com.

The latest business to open in Gavalochori is Mera, an artisan shop owned by Melissa Rallis. The shop is only a few steps away from the main square, and to get there, look down the street that runs past the Elpida kafeneio in the square. You’ll see the Lourakis Mini Market, and Mera is just past it. You’ll see a colorful sign bedecked with flowers and lemons and lovely items spilling out of its two doorways. “Come in and have an experience,” the shop seems to say, and when you enter, you’ll find yourself exploring a treasure trove of handmade items from Greece and elsewhere, including handprinted linen dishtowels, clothing, jewelry, cards, bags, pillows, and much more.

Mera is housed in a building that was formerly a mini market, a general store, an olive mill, and a stable for livestock. Melissa has preserved some of the building’s history by leaving on the front of the building the old hand-painted sign that says “General Store,” and the large arch in the building still has the pulley system from when it was used for processing olive oil. Melissa has repurposed many items from the market and from her house to create display spaces in the shop. When you visit, be sure to look for the three murals high up on one wall of the interior of the building that were probably created in the 1920s or 1930s. They are still amazingly vivid, and Melissa plans to restore them.

The name of the store, Mera, is derived from the first two letters of Melissa’s first and last names. She is an Australian-Greek woman who was born in Sydney (her parents met when her Greek father, who was in the navy, went ashore in Australia). She has always maintained a connection to Greece, however, spending her summers visiting her father’s relatives in the Peloponnese. Her father wanted to return to Greece to spend his later years but died before he could do so. Melissa feels like she is completing his journey by choosing to make Greece her home and has become a Greek citizen. She didn’t speak Greek growing up, but she is now fairly fluent in the Greek language, although she says she understands more than she is able to speak.

Melissa graduated from the Kensington School of Art and Craft in London in 1992 and works as an artist in a number of mediums. Her ability to move among different artistic expressions and her high level of artistic productivity suggest just how appropriate her name of Melissa is—in Greek, it means “honeybee.” She is a silversmith, a jewelry maker, a watercolor painter, a photographer, and a printmaker, and she has recently begun to try her hand at sewing clothing. She hasn’t yet tried pottery and glass, but those media are undoubtedly in her future. Her surroundings inspire her, and what she sees in the moment, she stops and tries to capture in her artwork.

Melissa has traveled extensively and has made different parts of the world her home. She left Australia in 1984 and has lived and worked since then in London, Washington DC, Athens, Mykonos, and northern California. She moved to Berkeley, California, in 1994 and later opened a gallery/artisan shop there that was the precursor to her current shop. It was called Kiss My Ring, and she owned and managed it for almost 20 years. She closed the gallery shortly before the COVID pandemic because she wanted a change. She also thought it was time to decide where she would spend the rest of her life.  She chose Crete because of its terrain, history, culture, and artisan traditions. She also loved the idea of living on an island—especially one that doesn’t close up in the winter and is large enough so that there is always something new to discover.

Melissa moved to Crete in September, 2021, with a shipping container full of her belongings and her cat. She stayed in Gavalochori for six months while looking for a house and fell in love with the village. There’s something energetic about Gavalochori, she believes, in part because so many people from different places live here. She had hoped to buy a house in Gavalochori, but nothing suitable was available, so she bought a house in the nearby village of Xirosterni, which she has renovated. Melissa has made it her mission to explore Crete and says she often gets lost in her meanderings but always ends up where she needs to be.

For Melissa, Mera offers an opportunity to integrate many aspects of her life. “When you see the shop,” she explains, “you see me.” At the same time, the shop enlarges her own life as it allows many different kinds of people to enter her environment and interact with her in delightful and stimulating ways.

During the summer season, Mera is open every day except for Mondays. Its hours are 10:30-2:30 and 6:30-10:30. The shop is open into early November and is open again the week before Christmas. Melissa is happy to come to the shop by appointment anytime if you want to find a gift. Contact her at +30 69865 09452 or mera53@icloud.com.

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