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Historic Bath business bustles

By By SARAH HODGES, Staff Writer
In her six years as mayor, Barbara Wallace-Modlin said she has been fortunate to see continued growth in the town of Bath.
"We have seen 50-percent growth in the last 10 years in the town itself," Modlin said, noting a current population of 279.
According to Modlin, businesses have "slowly grown to accommodate the town."
The January addition of Sister's Antiques has added to the community, which is expected to reach 12 businesses later in 2003.
Wayne and Jennifer Cook, operators of Sister's Antiques, opened the South Main Street store shortly after the new year.
"We started collecting antiques about three years ago," Jennifer Cook explained when the Daily News recently visited the shop. She said a simple hobby has flourished into Bath's newest business.
Cook said the idea for opening the store came in part from time spent volunteering at the Historic Bath Visitors Center.
"Both Wayne and I volunteer at the visitors center," she said. "One of the most-asked questions from guests was why is there no antique store."
After living in Bath for the past 12 years, the Cooks said they knew this was where they wanted to open their post-retirement endeavor.
"We didn't want to open the shop anywhere else," Cook explained.
Although most of the items found at Sister's Antiques are from North Carolina, many came from Virginia and Pennsylvania, according to the owners.
Cook said one of the most-talked-about pieces in the store is a chestnut secretary she found right in Beaufort County.
"The story places the secretary in the home or office of a prominent Beaufort County attorney," she added. All fixtures in the rare wood secretary are original, enhancing its appeal.
The store is currently open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday through Sunday.
"We may expand our hours once the season starts," Cook said.
Patrons will not find a credit card machine at Sister's Antiques. Cook said she is still debating on whether or not to put a telephone in the store.
"We are going to keep it simple and enjoy the store," she said.
"There's a lot of potential here," she said.
The store's name is a tribute to Wayne Cook's aunt, 85-year-old Jessie Lou White of Saratoga. "Sister," as family and friends call White, is an avid quilter who is known for her love of the community. According to family members, the sounding of the fire whistle in Saratoga is often a call to fireman that lunch is ready at "Sister's."
Cook and Modlin agreed the town needed an antique store. They hope area residents as well as the 20,000-plus visitors a year who stop at the Historic Bath Visitors Center will stop by Sister's Antiques and the businesses that benefit the town of Bath.