Fran Crowell and her husband Byron Boudreau have sold Toots, an iconic Yarmouth business they operated on Main Street for 33 years.
“You talk to everybody and they tell you everything. It’s just like a bartender. They feel like you want to know,” Crowell said.
People have expressed their feelings about her departure.
“Big time,” said Crowell, who is a familiar face behind the counter.
“They’re going to miss my sarcasm,” she laughed.
She’s seen many kids grow up.
“I still have people come in who say ‘I remember when you slapped my hand when I touched the cover of the candy jars.’ So don’t touch my covers,” she smiled.
She grabs a stool and pulls it towards her possessively.
“I’m taking this,” she said.
“It used to belong to Toots. That’s what he sat on and smoked his cigars.”
Harold (Toots) Hatfield and his war bride, Eileen, established the red & white store at 291 Main St. in 1942.
One entire side of the store is lined with magazines… the largest selection this side of Halifax.
The business also carries “every known cigarette this side of Chicago.” There are cigars in stock and large unmarked drawers full of tobacco products cover the wall behind the counter.
There’s candy galore: sours, red berries, yummies, giant lollipops, gumdrops, licorice, peppermints, Pez and much, much more to choose from.
After Foodland, opposite the Rodd Grand Hotel, closed several years ago, Toots began stocking more small grocery items.
New owners Genelle and Stephen Howatt took over on March 17. The couple moved to Yarmouth from Halifax three years ago.
Stephen was manager for three branches of Easy Financial in HRM.
In addition to Toots they own Mythic Games and Hobbies at 338 Main St., which opened last October.
Genelle grew up in Clare.
“Whenever we came into town it was always a treat to go to Toots and Mom would bring us here for candy,” she said.
Their three-year-old son, Alex, runs to the slushy machine when he visits.
“That’s his favourite thing,” said Genelle.
She added that when she heard about the store being listed for sale last year she said to her husband, “I hope whoever gets it doesn’t change anything.”
“That seems to be the biggest thing… everyone is asking us, ‘Are you changing anything?’”
The answer is “No.”
“We might try to bring in some more different kinds of candy. The main thing for us is to keep Toots here the way that it is, the way that it’s already been,” she said.
Two long-time employees are staying on: sisters Linda Muise and Jackie Hogan. Lena Fevens will be the new manager.
Meanwhile, Crowell and Boudreau plan on travelling. Friday, April 7, is Fran’s last day at Toots.
March 2016 article on Toots: Yarmouth landmark to generations: Toots for sale or lease