The Treat Shop, a fixture of Westminster’s Main Street for decades and the mall since it opened in 1987, has closed for good.
It was not an easy decision for owner Trevis Alban, who posted about it on his Facebook page Friday to put rumors to rest.
“I was hot and cold there for a while, opening a couple of days a week,” he said, of the store’s location across from the theater at TownMall of Westminster, in an interview, but he’s been fully closed now for around two weeks. “It’s been real tough.”
The Treat Shop carried all kinds of candy, but had a special focus on chocolate treats like chocolate-covered pretzels and turtles.
“What really highlights the Treat Shop has always been the chocolates — I ran the chocolate factory! But unfortunately the chocolates couldn’t carry The Treat Shop for the full year,” Alban said, noting that internet commerce and more diverse offerings at big box retailers had increasingly cut into his business. “Once a upon a time I used to be one of the only businesses that would carry a lot of the stuff I carry, now they all have it and it’s marked down.”
Alban owned and operated The Treat Shop for 24 years, but its roots in the community go back much further, to at least 1950.
“Some people have said it was before that,” Alban said, “but some of those people are not with us anymore.”
The Treat Shop was originally owned and operated by the Burk family, and occupied various locations on Main Street over the years.
“I remember it when it was across the street from the Carroll Theater,” said Kevin Dayhoff, Westminster councilman and former mayor. The theater building is now the home of the Carroll Arts Center.
“Some of my fondest memories were going to movies at the Carroll Theater and not only did you have the opportunity to go to a movie but you could get candy,” Dayhoff said. “This was a big deal back then.”
Growing up, Alban was best friends with Robert Burk, the son of Terry Burk, who owned and operated the Treat Shop.
“Back in the day when Rob and I were growing up, Terry Burk used to let Rob and I help ourselves to the candy, which was great,” Alban said. “I never knew I would be working that side of the counter one day.”
Running the candy business may have been a dream, but it was born out of a nightmare: Terry Burk was killed in 1995 when he was struck by a car while jogging along Md. 97. Rob Burk and Alban met and the latter agreed to take over the business in February 1996.
The business had already been moved to what was then Cranberry Mall, and Alban remembers his first day in the shop meeting the employees as their new boss.
“That was a very odd and fun transition. They had to tell me and show me how to do things,” he said, with one employee in particular laying out the challenge ahead for him. “I clearly remember him telling me I have some very big shoes to fill, meaning Terry Burk.”
Alban grew into those shoes, came to know customers and employees over the years, and is consequently saddened to have to say goodbye. He would much prefer to keep making chocolate for people.
“I guess it’s such a hard transition because I know how much the public loved my chocolate,” Alban said. "I tell you what the public is probably going to miss most are our Easter candy, our Easter bunnies; we made thousands of pounds of different shapes and sizes of everything."
He can’t say it’s not a little depressing, and he will miss his customers and employees, but Alban said at the same time it was special to be able to be a part of a business that was a part of the community for longer than most, more than half a century to be sure, and which leaves behind so many sweet memories for people.
“If I was to do a poll of local Westminster businesses that have lasted that many years, I believe the Treat Shop would be the winner. It’s something to be proud of,” he said. “I did my best. I gave it a good run.”