Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nice Gift Shop, Pilgrim!

Article and photos by Eric H.

I've always found it quite remarkable that John Alden could be so many things at once -- a carpenter, cooper, the first Mayflower passenger to set foot on Plymouth Rock, one of the founders of Plymouth Colony, a signer of the Mayflower Compact, and one with the vision to open a gift shop selling bright orange rubber lobsters and Plymouth Rock stuffed toy bears strategically located across from Plymouth Rock.

All kidding aside on the last one, the John Alden Gift Shop in Plymouth, Mass., has actually been around 90 years, surviving quite wonderfully in its old-fashioned, worn tile and drop ceiling ways. With the familiar pleasantly stale chemical smell of treated clothing merchandise upon entering and a wonderland of childhood-familiar and beloved gifts from the past, the John Alden Gift Shop is probably no different from the time you set foot into this traditional gift shop from your Ford LTD station wagon with the phony wood paneling.

The bright orange rubber lobsters and stuffed toy bears remain along with Plymouth "America's Hometown" t-shirts, coffee and tea mugs, pencils and stuffed animals. You'll also find those orange and black bumper stickers with the primitive Pilgrim and Minuteman illustrations, vibrantly-colored educational cards detailing the Pilgrim's first landing (as well as the Boston Tea Party and Constitution), and even the last bastions of soon-to-be-extinct Kodak 35mm film still for sale behind the counter. Of course, there's also a culinary favorite of the Pilgrim's -- the old-fashioned over sized root beer lollipops. I also love the John Alden tea mug that states "Descendant of John Alden." I'm not sure what this means, but it's a real confidence booster. The illustration of John Alden on the mug is priceless, too. He reminds me of a demented version of the Lucky Charms cereal box cartoon character!

The John Alden Gift Shop ultimately resonates with a warm, nostalgic personality, and all the simple pleasures of old-fashioned gifts and souvenirs. It's, by far, our favorite gift shop in a colony of similar stores along Plymouth Harbor.

John Alden Gift Shop, Inc.
74 Water St
Plymouth, MA
(508) 746-1887






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