Bayside Gazette 10031 Old Ocean City Blvd.
Berlin, MD 21811
Phone: 410-641-0039
Fax: 410-641-0085


Berlin’s Treasure Chest turns 40

7/13/17 | By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(July 13, 2017) Forty years ago last month, the Treasure Chest in downtown Berlin was sold to Bill Freeman. Today, his daughter, Terri Sexton, operates the mainstay on Main Street — the oldest business in historic district.

The Treasure Chest dates back more than a century, when it was originally housed in the building that’s now home to yarn shop A Little Bit Sheepish. It’s now based in its own building on 20 North Main Street.

“The Treasure Chest itself has been doing business for over 125 years,” Sexton said. “When my dad bought the business, June 1, 1977, they just had a month-to-month rental agreement [at the old location]. There wasn’t a lease and this building came up for sale, so he went ahead and bought it and moved the business here.”

Sexton was 16 at the time. Back then, she said, Treasure Chest carried giftware and costume jewelry, along with a small amount of what would be considered fine jewelry.

She assumes it had operated that way since the beginning, carrying mostly “knick-knacks.” She said there was also a section in the old store for wedding registry items like crystal, fine china and sterling flatware.

About two years after her father bought the Treasure Chest, Sexton went off to college with the intention of becoming a photojournalist.

“My last year of college I decided, like a lot of people in this area, if you have a family business and you want to live in this area where you grew up, it was a good thing to do,” she said. “So, after I graduated college I started working with my dad.”

As they worked together, Sexton said, the Treasure Chest benefited from having a male and female perspective, as well as the viewpoints of two different generations.

As the business grew, so did the town. Sexton’s father and Jim Barrett bought Renaissance Plaza and revitalized it, which kicked off a series of improvements throughout Berlin.

“That started the actual revitalization of downtown,” Sexton said. “If you want to draw businesses to town and you want the town to thrive, it’s got to look good. So, with them redoing Renaissance Plaza and making what could be done seem possible, that sort of sparked interest and the whole town started to come alive again.”

Sexton worked closely with former Economic Development Director Michael Day when Berlin started its Main Street program about a decade ago.

“I worked more with the merchants, while he worked more with the government end of the Main Street,” she said. “We came up with events and I chaired the committee meetings, and I was probably instrumental in having the meetings go around.

“The first year as a Main Street community, we had a certain amount of money to spend. We had a lot of work that first year getting all that done, and after that it was kind of maintaining things,” Sexton added.

As business started to boom and more shops opened in downtown Berlin, especially those carrying gift items, the Treasure Chest started to focus more on fine jewelry.

“We kind of relinquished some of the better-selling gifts to some of the other businesses in the area,” Sexton said. “We gave them our suggestions of our good sellers if they wanted to carry them, and then we became more of a full-on jewelry store.

“Today, we carry a full line of jewelry, sterling silver, gold, gemstones, diamonds — just a full gamut,” she continued. “We also found a need for carrying nice jewelry boxes. We pretty much sustain what we transitioned into to this day.”

Sexton said her biggest season is around the Christmas holiday.

“We have wonderful regular customers that have been customers through the years,” she said. “They watched my children grow up — I watched their families grow.

“We get a nice boost of tourists in the summertime, but our mainstay are generally our loyal customers, year-round” Sexton added.

While Sexton was not quite ready to promise another 125-year run for the Treasure Chest, she said she planned to maintain its current place as an anchor of the town.

“I think it’s working very well for us and you’ll just see us keep moving along, full speed ahead,” she said.

To mark the anniversary, the Treasure Chest will offer storewide discounts of 20-50 percent off, July 14-22.

A ribbon cutting and business after hours with the Berlin Chamber of Commerce will be held today, Thursday, from 5-8 p.m.

For more information, visit or call 410-641-0333.

Posted On: 7/21/17 3:45 pm
Many congrats Terri. A lovely shop with a lovely and smart gal in charge. Much love from your Chicago Family

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