Plymouth's Artisan Market
Caroline Kilborn (2022)
In the little town of Plymouth, North Carolina there is a small storefront called the Artisan Market and Riverview Cafe. We first arrived at Plymouth when it was almost pitch black so we were unable to read the part of the sign that said “Riverview Cafe”. So when we first walked into the building it was a beautiful surprise to see.
Unfortunately, the cafe was closed since it was dinner time. But we were lucky enough to be granted permission to walk around and see the beautiful Roanoke River from the large windows at the back of the building. When you first walk into the actual building, you are greeted by an employee and then just overwhelmed by the beauty of all the antique pieces laid out in front of you. The whole store had one main room. It was then split up into different sections that were categorized by the type of commodities sold. In one corner there were delicate crystal glassware pieces whereas in the corner across the room, there was an “at home” build-a-bear workshop.
When we were first walking around we just tried to get a feel for the types of work they were selling. I was intrigued by the antiques they were displaying, there were mini pianos, brass candlesticks, ruby earrings, and even more beautifully conserved pieces. While I was drawn to all of the shiny items, I was even more interested in the sections close to the café.
There were hand-sewn baby clothes in one corner as well as deflated teddy bears which were able to be stuffed with that “at-home” build-a-bear workshop I mentioned earlier. At the entrance of the store, there were all beautifully handmade ceramic pieces that were so delicate. And then in one last corner, there were hand-painted tumblers, like the cups you would see on Etsy, that were glittered and painted the specific way a customer would want.
While talking with the employee there at the time, she told us that all of the items sold, which were not antiques, were made by local homeowners. This Artisan Market is the place for locals to share their passions with the rest of the town. The creativity and craftsmanship that the artists contain are astonishing. And had I not been on a school trip, and had the money, I would have bought at least 10 items from that store. It was so easy to see that everyone took so much pride and effort into making their pieces that I wanted to take all of it home.
Greetings from Washington County, Bear-olina
Gayatri Chopra (2022)
If there’s one thing the town of Plymouth, North Carolina loves, it’s bears. All across downtown, Plymouth, there are signs welcoming people to Washington County, Bear-olina, and warnings to watch out for bears. From our first drive down the main road, it was clear that bears are important here.
The main strip of downtown Plymouth was welcoming. At dusk, the streetlamps shined and stringed lights framed every window display. Naturally, we started our exploration at the Welcome Center. The business was crowded when we entered; people flocked around the room reading displays on the wall about the history of the town, bears (of course), and attractions to visit. Caroline and I took time reading each display, careful to walk around the large wooden canoe displayed in the center of the room—which the tag labeled as for sale.
We continued to the back of the welcome center, stepping into the gift shop. All the products, according to the gift shop co-owner, Tara Thomas, come from her family and local vendors creating unique products. The gift shop contained a wide array of things, ranging from fresh candles to handmade garments to every imaginable bear-themed souvenir, of course. The items for sale in the gift shop were a clear reflection of how caring the people around Plymouth were.
Thomas told us how, like others, she leaned into the idea of living in a smaller town. She explained that she’d lived nearby her whole life, but moved away to a bigger city when she raised her family before eventually moving back to Plymouth a few years ago. It’s where she considers home since her family has been here for generations.
Thomas also told us about some of the beloved traditions in the town, one of which was happening the night we visited. The First Friday was a monthly tradition in downtown Plymouth, and it featured different food options, vendors, and live music. It was gatherings like that which made Plymouth such a wonderful community, one patron of the Welcome Center said on her way out.
Before leaving, we asked about the bear obsession that the town had. Thomas told us about how common bear sightings were in Plymouth, and how most of the interactions bears had with the town was when they stole snacks from unattended tables outside. Still, Thomas told us, we had to be careful about bears on the highway.
As Caroline and I prepared to head to our next stop, we agreed that Plymouth definitely had a small-town charm to it. The people were friendly and the streets were nice to walk on and the businesses were great to explore. We got back onto the highway and drove east—watching out for bears, of course.