Anderson to close Pirates Treasure at end of the month

Published 8:09 am Sunday, December 3, 2023

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By Clark Curtis, For Washington Daily News

If all goes as planned, the doors of Pirates Treasure Gift Shop in Bath will be closed for business by the end of December. A self admitted bittersweet day for 86 year-old Alethia Anderson, who has run Pirates Treasure Gift Shop from her home at 214 S. Main Street since 1971. “I have been putting this off and putting it off for quite some time now,” said Anderson .“I thought I was going to retire much sooner than this. I don’t know what finally pushed me to this point. Perhaps it was my health or my mind isn’t as sharp as it used to be. It just seems to be the best time while I’m still upright and not laying in a bed all of the time. The scariest part of it all is knowing that I want to be out of here by the end of December. I have a lot of hustling I need to get done between now and then,” she said with a wink and a grin.

Anderson was raised in Scotland Neck, North Carolina. It was there that she met her future husband Joe John, who was from Enfield, North Carolina They married and moved to the small town of Rainwood, just outside of Enfield. “We started a family and lived there for about six years,” said Anderson. “In 1970 we decided to move to Bath and have called it home ever since. There are times in your life when you think back and say I shouldn’t have done that. But as it turned out we made the right decision.”

Anderson got started in the business as kind of a fluke. She had made several Christmas presents before they moved in September of 1970, because she knew they had to get the kids situated in school and she wasn’t going to have time to do any shopping. “When we moved in I showed some of my neighbors the Christmas presents that I made and before I knew it I had sold them all. I thought to myself that perhaps this was telling me that I should start a little gift shop to sell my things. A year later I opened the shop in the front part of our home.”

Anderson started out just selling the things that she made, primarily Christmas decorations, but it soon became overwhelming for her to keep up. “It was killing me that I couldn’t make enough to keep up with the demand and still get any peace and quiet for myself. I then started ordering some things in addition to the pieces I was making, which helped tremendously. Eventually I started adding general gifts in the shop along with the Christmas ornaments and the like.”

Anderson said she would like to take credit for the name of the shop but she owes that to her sister. “She told me not to name it anything sweet,” said Anderson. “She said this is pirate country and that it needs to have that in the name. She came up with The Pirates Treasure, and that it has been for the last 52 years.”

Not once in the last 52 years has Anderson thought back and wished she had done something else. She said it’s as if this was always what she was meant to do without even knowing it. “When I was eleven years old, my neighbor died,” said Anderson. “I went out and picked a bunch of flowers and made a wreath for him, just cause I wanted to. I remember thinking at the time that this might be something that I want to do. But, I forgot about it and just went on.”

Over the years Anderson has welcomed local residents from Bath and the surrounding area, and travelers from around the world, as well. She said she gets great satisfaction out of meeting so many different people and learning about them. “I have met a lot of really nice folks over the years and a few that I wish I hadn’t, she remarked with a smirkish grin. “It has always been so nice when folks come in and purchase something, particularly those who come back year after year. It’s the returns that have really kept me going. At the end of the day, it makes you feel like you must be doing something right.”

The list of memories for Anderson is a book in itself. But there is one in particular that stands out that she has never forgotten. “The doorbell rang one morning at around 9 o’clock,” said Anderson. “There was a lady at my door holding a paper bag with a baby in her arms and two children by her side and asked if she could use the bathroom. I invited her in and sat down with my friend to drink our coffee. We soon started to hear the sound of water just splashing and splashing. I went to check what was going on and found she had bathed each one of her children, put them in clean clothes, and was on her way.”

As for retirement, Anderson already knows what’s next. “I’m going to miss this and it is going to be a big adjustment for me. But I’m very happy how my life turned out and feel very blessed. It sure kept me busy over the years and I feel successful and that I did a good job. Now it is time for me to get outside and start tending to my yard and flowers. That, would make me very happy.”