Historic Watson Drugs has recently come full circle in the Plaza, opening a new gift shop in the former World Travel space next door. Coincidentally, the space at one time was the actual location of Watson Drugs from 1929 to 1950 before the venerable Old Towne retailer returned to its current location, which was established in the late 1800s.
Showcasing Made-in-the-USA products only, Watson USA features such items as Stonewall jams and jellies from Maine, cookware and stoneware made in Ohio, and spa items handmade in Sonoma. Watson Drugs owner Scott Parker says the shop fits with Watsons Americana heritage here in Old Towne.
We also have an array of Orange-related memorabilia like pins, paintings, postcards and jewelry, he said. We are offering high-quality products, including hand-stitched tote bags that are American-made and affordable.
Founded in 1899 by K.E. Watson, the landmark drugstore, diner and vintage soda fountain has been a favorite gathering place for Old Towne residents through the decades. Longtime Watson Drugs employee Vera Shrouds has taken the helm at the gift shop, assisted by Melissa Duyette.
Scott said that it took six months to renovate the 2,000-square-foot space, which connects directly from the existing restaurant at Watson Drugs. The departure of World Travel marked the end of an era, the business having been here since the mid 1960s. Before that, a Van de Kamp bakery occupied the space.
For Scott, it made sense to reclaim the space and bring everything under one roof. More than 400 people attended the grand opening, where the first hundred attendees won free ice-cream sundaes once a week for a year.
We are happy that we are here, and we hope that residents and visitors embrace the new store, said Scott.
Published in the Sep/Oct 2012 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review
Written by Karen Anderson, Photograph by Jeanine Hill
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