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Pirate-themed store opens in downtown Lawrence

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Shiver me timbers, matey. My credit card soon may be under attack. Downtown Lawrence is now home to its first — at least as far as I know — pirate-themed store.

The jewelry and gift store Treasure Chest has opened at 1109 Massachusetts St., across from the Douglas County Courthouse.

Perhaps you wonder why this worries me. Well, yes, I do like nautical-themed decorations, but that is not my big concern. My real fear is that this store may sell life-size cutouts of Captain Jack Sparrow — a.k.a. Johnny Depp. If so, my wife will buy one for every room in the house. And no, I don't think she's buying it for the nautical theme.

I believe you can find plenty of Jack Sparrow stuff at the Treasure Chest, but there are also plenty of items for folks who aren't into the pirate lifestyle. Owner Denise Bosch told me that at its core the Treasure Chest is a jewelry and gift store. That means a large amount of sterling silver and stainless steel jewelry, in addition to "body jewelry," wooden and shell designed pieces, novelty items and other gifts.

"Our inventory changes as trends change," Bosch said. "That's one of the things that makes us fun."

But make no mistake, pirates are a big deal here. There's a large Captain Hook standing in the front of the store behind a turn-of-the century ship's wheel. There's a also an eight-foot mermaid mural on one of the walls.

"You kind of have that bottom of the ocean, sunken treasure feel," Bosch said.

Bosch is a veteran of the gift store business. She's owned a gift shop in the Houston area for the past 14 years, and decided to open one in the Lawrence area when one of her children decided to attend KU.

Bosch originally had the store in The Legends in Kansas City, Kan., but she said it became obvious that being located in the younger, hipper Lawrence scene would be a benefit to the business.

As for the pirate fascination, she said it is a definite trend that has some staying power with consumers right now.

"I think people like it just because it is fun," she said. "We're already seeing lots of interest here, and it is not just the college kids. We're getting a good mix."

News and notes from around town:

• One of the many advantages to being a pirate is you don't have to buy much gasoline for your vessel. The rest of us, though, spend plenty of time at the gas station, and I've been getting questions about whether a rebuilding of the Kwik Shop at 19th and Massachusetts Street is still in the works.

The latest information I have from the Lawrence-Douglas County planning office is that Kwik Shop still is pursing plans to raze the existing building, and construct a larger store at the corner. But the plans are changing.

We reported back in January that the company wanted to build a convenience store with six gasoline pumps. But several neighbors began expressing concern about whether the company was trying to squeeze too much onto the site. The plan did require several zoning variances. The city's board of zoning of appeals granted the variances, but also added a requirement that the project have no more than four gasoline pumps, Lawrence-Douglas County planner Mary Miller told me.

If I'm doing my math right, the doubled-sided pumps will accommodate up to eight vehicles fueling at a time, and that is double what the store can handle today. Miller, when I talked to her a few days ago, said her office is still waiting a new set of plans that meet the zoning board's conditions. So, I don't have a good timeline on when the project may get underway.

As for the store itself, it is slated to be about 3,300 square feet compared to the 2,700-square-foot store there today.

• My longtime theory is that gasoline is only the third most popular fuel in Lawrence. It trails beer and pizza. Well, I've got a quick bit of news on the pizza front. A new pizza shop has opened in West Lawrence. As we reported last month, the New York-style pizza chain Johnny Brusco's was scheduled to open in the former Godfather's pizza location at Sixth and Wakarusa. According to the building's landlord, Lawrence businessman Greg DiVilbiss, the shop is now open. Check out this article from last month to get a sense of the place.

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