Time travel may not yet be a possibility, but walking into Northport’s new Treasure Quest might be the next best wormhole for kids and former kids.
Co-owners Mike and Pam Chaudhuri have filled the walls to create a “geek store,” in a location adjacent to Alley Cake Co., owned and run by their daughter Sarah Bullington.
Though it’s a relatively intimate spot, Mike Chaudhuri said, it’s stocked wall-to-wall with a dragon’s hoard of curiosities, a trove of things they’ve collected both for personal fulfillment, and after deciding to open the shop.
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“It’s in a side room, one that used to be a cookware shop for a while,” he said. Mary Cesar in December announced that she was closing up Mary’s Cakes and Pastries, saying she wanted to retire and move to New Mexico with her husband de ella.
Bullington, who had been a designer at Mary’s for 10 1/2 years, decided to take on the business, re-opening under the new name in February.
“This space wasn’t being used, and Pam’s working with Sarah in the bakery, so we weren’t sure what to do with this extra: Make it a party room, or just leave it empty,” said Chaudhuri, a semi- retired lawyer. Though he’d given away some of his personal collection from him to a library, he decided to keep himself busy with Treasure Quest, while the others work next door.
“We’re cramming a lot in there,” he said. “We’re both fans of collectibles and antiques. Pam’s more glasswares and things. I’m more geek stuff.”
So while West Alabama comics and pop-culture fans also have The Comic Strip at 505 Hargrove Road E in Tuscaloosa, Izzy’s Comics at 2801 Lurleen B. Wallace Blvd. in Northport, and the new 2nd and Charles in Meadowbrook Plaza, Chaudhuri says their new shop is “… trying to carry stuff nobody else carries.”
Inside you’ll find movie posters, model kits, record albums, comic books, silver coins, tabletop games with miniature figurines, hundreds of magnets ranging the walls, and baseball cards, including unopened packs dating back to the ’70s.
Also: Toys galore, ranging from 21st-century Funko Pops back through the decades to “Doctor Who,” “Star Wars” and a Flintstones pinball machine, all the way to bagatelles dating back to the ’40s and ’50s.
“It’s a lot of stuff you used to buy at the five and 10 store,” Chaudhuri said.
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Copies of the British magazine Fortean Times, which Treasure Quest also carries, could almost work as a treasure map to the shop.
Named for American writer and researcher Charles Hay Fort, who studied the bizarre, Fortean Times delves into anomalous phenomena, things that seemingly can only be described as paranormal or supernatural: Ghosts, levitation, teleportation, alien abduction, or other strange occurrences testing the boundaries of scientific understanding, from UFOs to ball lightning, rains of frogs to spontaneous human combustion.
The geek-life repository’s intended more as a labor of love than a profit machine.
“It’s something we thought would be fun, not a typical store, but a little bit of everything,” he said. “It’s a lot of people’s childhoods. That’s why we named it Treasure Quest: You don’t know what you’re going to find, going on a quest for your childhood, or for something more recent.”
There won’t be online sales, since the Chaudhuris want the quests happening in-house only. But if a customer comes in with a request for a certain object, he can seek it.
“I’m a good picker,” he said. “I find things in antique malls, eBay, yard sales… everywhere, really.”
Hours will mirror those of Alley Cake Co., to begin with, 10 am-5 pm Tuesdays through Fridays, and 10 am-3 pm on Saturdays, though he’s debating staying open later one night per week.
“I may fine-tune that, but I’m not going to spend 80 hours a week in here,” Chaudhuri said.
Saturday’s grand opening, 10 am to 4 pm, will feature giveaways of comic books, and cookies from next door’s Alley Cake Co., with prizes for best cosplayer. Patrons can enter to win a Superman hardback book or a dessert cake. And the first Avenger himself, Captain America, will visit.
Treasure Quest is at 412 22nd Ave. in Northport, behind Billy’s Sports Bar and Grill. For more, see the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/treasurequestcomics, or email email@example.com.