She’s busy as can be, stocking the shelves, returning the store to its former appearance but owner Fran Crowell still has a cheery reply for those who enter.
“It’s exciting,” she said. “Nice to see all the customers again and they’ve been saying nice things to me all week.”
Crowell and her husband Byron Boudreau owned Toots Confectionary Store on Main Street for 33 years.
Looking to retire and travel, they sold the business in 2017 and rented the space to the new owners who operated it during 2018 and part of 2019.
On Feb. 6 a Facebook post on the business’s page stated the store would be closed because of an “ongoing police investigation.” No more details were provided, and the doors remained closed.
The space changed back to the original owners and was put up for lease but as the summer wore on, an idea became more appealing to Crowell.
The iconic store, where young-at-heart shopped for candy galore, in addition to convenience items and a wide range of magazines, would be reborn as Fran’s Convenience Store.
Her staff of five is busy restoring the store to its former appearance, stocking shelves with all the old favourites.
“It’s exactly the same. We don’t have all the product yet but I’m getting there and the magazines are coming very slowly. We’ll have our first issues on Aug. 26. I haven’t got my big lollipops yet, but I will,” she adds.
Boudreau is a bit of a collector and some of his treasures can be found here. There are vintage magazines, old bottles, tins and other fascinating paraphernalia.
An improvement planned for fall is a wheelchair accessible entry door on the north side with wind-breaking panels. The front door will likely be locked for the winter because it’s so hard to open when the wind’s blowing off the waterfront, says Crowell.
She says they did get some travelling in and still have their RV for weekend excursions.
“We went as far as Quebec last time, the Gaspe peninsula. But you know what? I like Cape Breton better. It was fun. We’ve done all kinds of back roads in Nova Scotia, roads I never even knew existed,” she said.
In the past
Toots was established in 1942 by Harold (Toots) Hatfield and his war bride, Eileen. The store at 291 Main St. is a landmark for many.
For decades, one entire side of the store was lined with magazines, the largest selection this side of Halifax.
The business carried “every known cigarette this side of Chicago.” There were cigars in stock and large unmarked drawers full of tobacco products covered the wall behind the counter.
After Foodland, opposite the Rodd Grand Hotel, closed several years ago, the store began stocking more small grocery items.
The closest grocery store to downtown is about a kilometre away: Yarmouth South Red & White.
Fran’s Convenience Store hours
Monday to Friday 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday 11a.m. to 7 p.m.