Treasures inside the old Searsport Bank vault

A Splendiferous day in Searsport at the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ chocolate shoppe

Thu, 02/27/2020 - 1:00pm

Story Location:
21 Main St.
Searsport, ME 04974
United States

    SEARSPORT – Splendiferous is a word. It means stupendously beautiful, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, at any rate. It’s a newer word. It’s only been around since the mid-19th Century, but its usage has dramatically increased since the 1950s. This brings us to the Splendiferous Sweet Shoppe, an “Alice in Wonderland” themed chocolate shop at 21 Main Street in Searsport.

    Meryem Rogan and co-owner/mother DeAnne Rogan opened the shop in downtown Searsport in June 2019.

    DeAnne Rogan said the building they occupy is the former National Bank of Searsport.

    “It was built in 1891 and operated as a bank until the mid 1970s,” she said. “It was the National Bank of Searsport and then it became Merrill Trust. An interesting thing was that they printed their own money. National banks could until the 1930s.”

    It was a bank, which means it had a vault.

    Meryem Rogan said they thought the vault would work perfectly in a candy shop.

    “It is the original vault,” she said. “We fill it with lots of candy, mostly things for kids. The special thing is there’s a little safe inside the big one and we have chocolate coins in there, plus golden tickets.”

    Meryem said because it’s Searsport’s 175th birthday they are doing something special for the vault.

    “Searsport, as I said, used to print its own money,” she said. “We have some of the images of the money so we printed it on our chocolate bars. And we keep those inside the vault, as well.”

    Meryem said she’s been baking as long as she can remember.

    “I started a business on the internet as soon as I graduated high school,” she said. “That was six or seven years ago. In 2016 I started looking around for a place to sell it, but it wasn’t until last winter we saw this building and it all just kind of fit together and it became our little spot.”

    Splendiferous carries an “Alice in Wonderland” theme. Meryem said it was a fun theme and is universal.

    “A lot of people know what Alice in Wonderland is,” she said. “There are just a lot of things you can do with food. There are tea parties, and lots of candies incorporated into the story. Plus it’s in the public domain, so we can pretty much go wild with it and not suffer any copyright laws.”

    DeAnne said they had to go with the Victorian Alice and not the modern image to avoid those copyright laws.

    “If you notice, all our pictures and themes come from that Victorian Alice,” she said. “Nothing modern about it and it fits the building. Kids love the theme and big kids love the theme, too.”

    At the shop, we are sitting at a large table with teapots and cups, with a backdrop scene of woods hung on the wall behind. A large overstuffed, red chair that Alice might sit in is nearby. A mad hatter’s hat and a Cheshire cat’s grin cloth is hanging over a chair.

    “We love hosting tea parties for kids,” said Meryem. “The adults love them, too. We do prefer that you call a week, preferably two or three ahead to arrange a time. It’s meant for small gatherings so probably no more than ten or so people.”

    Meryem said the parties could be customized to fit a particular need,

    “We serve tea and hot chocolate,” she said. “We can add chocolates and candies, cake, we can read a story and pretty much customize any kind of cookie.”

    “It doesn’t have to be an Alice theme,” said DeAnne. “We can customize any theme as long as its not copyright infringement. We did a unicorn theme and it went over very well. We set up a chocolate dipping bar and they loved it.”

    Meryem said you can dip anything into the chocolate; pretzels, berries, fruit, and pieces of cake. Anything you can think of.

    “The nice thing is,” said DeAnne, “is that it doesn’t have to be a big party. A grandmother brought her granddaughter who was visiting from out of town, we poured her hot chocolate and served her cookies and just sort of doted over her for an hour. We treated her like a little princess and she loved it.”

    Meryem said special outings like that are easy to do. Before the shop in Searsport, the duo was doing craft shows and farmer’s markets. They both agreed the shop has been a success.

    “It’s been wonderful,” said Meryem. “Lots of locals and lots of tourists. Everyone’s been really happy we are here. and we love where we are.”

    Currently, the shop is only open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Meryem said they are baking the other days of the week and filling internet orders. She said she does an excellent business on Etsy.

    Meryem said something new and turning into a good seller is Chocolate Bombs.

    “The idea came from some of our friends at the Tea and Tarts tea shop in Belfast,” she said. “They asked if we could make them for them. I guess it’s a fad in other places, but hasn’t really caught on here, yet.”

    Meryem described the Chocolate Bomb as a three-inch chocolate ball and you put it inside a large mug, big enough to fit the ball.  The ball is filled with marshmallows and chocolate chips.

    You heat milk to a simmer and pour it over the ball. As the milk melts the chocolate, the marshmallows puff and float to the top. It has everything you need for a splendiferous cup of hot chocolate.

    “We sell them for $2.99,” said Meryem. “We can provide the milk and cup for $3.50. People love them. One guy drove all the way up from Greene, and he bought 25 of them for a party. They have a good shelf life. You can keep them in the refrigerator and they would probably keep for a month.”

    For a tea party, chocolate-themed baked goods, and chocolate bombs, make the drive to Searsport and check out the Splendiferous Sweet Shoppe.