MONROE — The Hidden Treasure in downtown is like a “variety store,” in the eyes of Scott Ely, owner and founder. On March 1, The Hidden Treasure will celebrate its 20th anniversary.

The shop’s name came from a treasure chest that Ely used to keep candy in at the store. One day, when the shop was new, a man came in asking Ely if he would be interested in buying a model boat. Ely said no, but the man pointed out that Ely had the treasure chest candy dish, the name “Hidden Treasure.” The man said Ely needed the boat.

“The rest is history,” Ely said.

The shop has a nautical theme in the front. Sally Griffin, an artist from Marshville, used to be a vendor at Ely’s store. She told Ely that he looked like the ship captain in a portrait that now hangs behind the register. Ely’s daughter added a slip of paper that says, “Captain Scott” to the portrait. Since then, Ely and his doppleganger have been surrounded by model ships, ship captain figurines and other nautical paraphernalia that are gifts not intended for sale.

The ceiling of the building resembles the hull of a ship.

The shop has another location on Old Charlotte Highway, which will celebrate its sixth anniversary this year.

Ely said he once sold two pencil drawings for $80. The new owner of the drawings had it appraised and it was worth about $12,500. Ely learned from it; he wishes he would have gotten it appraised. The value of the piece came from the artist.

One of the more interesting pieces at Hidden Treasure is the glass cabinet that sits near the register. The cabinet, made in the 1800’s, was formerly owned by televangelists Jim and Tammy Baker. Ely said the couple paid more than $16,500 to have it shipped from England. It’s not intended for sale.

Ely said many of the 40 vendors at the Hidden Treasure have been with him for at least 12 years or more. He said one lady, 83, has been with him since the store opened.