Coffee shop restores interest in historic Bath building

Published 6:52 pm Monday, June 17, 2019


Washington Daily News

BATH — Three women are bringing life back to the building known as Swindell’s Cash Store.

Once a commercial hub, Swindell’s Cash Store stood empty for more than 20 years before renovations began in 2005. Now Margaret Dixon and artists Jenny Mastin and Eileen Sanger have made it their mission to involve the community and make the building more of a social hub.

“I’ve always seen this place empty,” Dixon said. “They had a couple little pop up events. … I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have some life in here?’”

Mastin and Sanger moved their artist studios into the back of the empty building at 103 S. Main St. in the fall of 2018. Although they both valued the privacy of working in a space that was not overtly open to the public, it lacked the social aspect of curious locals wandering in to ask about their art.

“The front of the building really needs to be open,” Mastin said. “Because people do love to come in. I would come in here occasionally because I could actually talk on the phone and people would walk by looking in constantly, but they couldn’t get through the front door.”

In an effort to bring more people into the building, Dixon opened her coffee shop on May 18 without any barista experience. Her side of the building is full of plants and games, making it a welcoming environment for groups of people. Although only open on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the feedback from the public has only been positive.

“I see a lot of people coming in to sit down and chat,” Sanger said. “It’s nice. It’s really, really nice. There’s really no place that they can do that.”

Although the coffee shop has attracted interest from the locals, the three women are still planning how to fill the rest of the empty space in the building. From Arts of the Pamlico events and hosting club meetings, they want to encourage the community to make use of the historic building.

“There’s a lot of things scheduled at the library here, so it’s sort of figuring out how to interface with what’s already going on,” Dixon said. “I get so many ideas. Obviously they’re (the community) really glad to see some activity in the building, and they have lots of ideas about it.”

Due to increased demand and volunteering offers to expand hours, Coffee and Arts may change their hours in the future. All updates will be posted on the “Lucky Enough to be in Bath, NC” Facebook page.