The Curiosity Shop has been a fixture in downtown Aiken for the past 15 years. The shop located on Park Avenue that brought a taste of the British Isles, Europe and beyond to consumers in the CSRA, will be suspending operations on Feb. 28 as part of a re-evaluation process, said John Heaton, who owns the business with Amy Neeley.
• The Curiosity Shop opened its doors in 1998.• It has been at its current location on Park Avenue for two years. • The shop was located previously on Laurens Street and Richland Avenue.
“It's kind of bittersweet,” said Heaton, who said the business will not be closing. “We're going to evaluate what we're doing.”
The decision to suspend operations was based on a number of variables, but increased competition from other grocery stores who began carrying merchandise that was once unique to The Curiosity Shop, a changing marketplace and consumer convenience, were among the reasons the retailer decided to re-evaluate.
“It's just easier for people to pick something up when they're shopping than it is to go out of their way and come here,” said Heaton, who said The Curiosity Shop's pricing was competitive with that of its rivals. “A lot of the specialty items that we have traditionally sold in the past, you can now get in other places.”
A loyal clientele both locally and from places as far away as Charleston and Atlanta patronize the establishment, which has moved several times during its tenure in the downtown shopping district. The Curiosity Shop has been at its present location for the past two years. The store's warmth and inviting presence, coupled with the Dickens Cafe, an amenity that was new to the Park Avenue locale, made it a popular destination. The Curiosity Shop will continue to serve Aiken in some capacity, whether it be downtown or another location, said Heaton.
“We've always been supportive of downtown; even when opportunities have arisen other places, we wanted to stay downtown,” said Heaton. “One of the reasons we called it The Curiosity Shop is because we could sell whatever we wanted.”