“Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe” – Insightful Stories Behind Select Second Chance Standouts!

ye olde

Do a Deeper Dive into These Delightful Displays!

Guided by an adroit storyteller with an accomplished historical bent, we are pleased to present Linda Rabben’s research about some of our most iconic products and store displays. We hope you will enjoy – and share – this expanding vintage tour!

Linda Rabben is an author, anthropologist and human rights activist. She has worked for nongovernmental organizations as a writer, researcher and public speaker. Since 2015 she has been an associate research professor of anthropology at the University of Maryland.

Linda has published 10 nonfiction books and has given talks about human rights issues to more than 80 groups in the US and other countries.

In 2021 Linda and her husband moved to Baltimore, where she enjoys walking in her neighborhood, meeting her neighbors and shopping at Second Chance. She is now doing research on the social history of stained-glass windows in Baltimore homes, churches and institutions…and much more.

A Sweet Relic

The giant yellow steel lower-case letter “r” standing alone at Second Chance was part of one of Baltimore’s best-known landmarks for 70 years. The Domino Sugars sign where it used to reside overlooks the Inner Harbor atop the 100-year-old American Sugar Refining Company factory, the second-largest sugar refinery in the United States.

The 120-foot by 70-foot neon sign was erected in 1951 and lasted until 2021. The company replaced it with an LED-illuminated sign designed by the Gable Company of Curtis Bay. WBAL-TV reported that crews moved the letters through the factory one by one and lifted them with a pulley instead of using a helicopter or crane.

On July 4, 2021, the new sign was switched on after a six-month installation process. The sign cost $75,000 (about $804,000 in current dollars) in 1951; its replacement cost almost $2 million.

The company donated parts of the old sign to Second Chance and the Baltimore Museum of Industry. The upper-case D was so weather-beaten, however, that it could not be salvaged. The company had medallions made from pieces of the letter and gave them to 500 employees. More than 350 additional medallions were donated to the Museum of Industry, which sold all of them to sentimental collectors in a few hours.