Betty says ‘bye’
After 57 years, Betty’s store will soon be West Bay history
Historic business closing in West Bay
WEST BAY, N.L. — The local convenience store can be the virtual nerve centre of small communities like West Bay.
Soon, the local service district on the Port au Port Peninsula will lose one of its most popular gathering spots.
It was with mixed feelings Betty Flynn said goodbye to her store, Betty’s Grocery and Confectionary, she owned and operated for 57 years up until she left it Aug. 31.
The store is still open and run by her daughter Debbie and husband, Harvie Sweezie, from Fredericton, N.B., it will only be for a short period.
It saddens Flynn to think of what will happen later.
“I think it will be missed,” she said in an interview at Acadian Village, a retirement and assisted living facility in Stephenville where she now resides.
After some health issues, not to mention having just turned 88 last week, she felt it was time to give up keeping shop.
Flynn was born Betty Ward on Sept. 17, 1931 in South East Bight, Placentia Bay. She finished her schooling in St. John’s at Littledale and attended summer school at Memorial University, qualifying her as a teacher.
The profession brought her to a one-room school at Winterhouse on the Port au Port Peninsula back in 1950.
It was there she met her first husband, Matthew Lainey. They married March 29, 1951 in Lourdes and they had seven children.
It was in 1962 she decided to become an entrepreneur and she opened her convenience store called Lainey’s.
Her husband died in 1976. Five years later, she remarried.
Getting married to Gerry Flynn in 1981 gave them a blended family that included 12 adult children. Her second husband died Sept. 20, 2012.
It was also in 1981 that Flynn changed the name of the store to Betty’s Grocery and Confectionary.
She said she started the business because there were no other nearby stores at the time. At her location, people could buy convenient items from groceries to cigarettes and beer to confectionary items.
She even had a gas pump for some years.
In addition to operating the store, she was a busy housewife but as the kids were growing up, they’d help with the business.
She said the people of the community were good in supporting the business. She admits to being a little soft-hearted, at times letting people go out the door without paying.
She recalled one startling incident back in the 1980s when the bell over her door rang, but nobody was there when she went out.
A man had been hiding in the store and had set off the bell on his way out after stealing the cash box.
She said the police got the guy and he ended up being charged.
Norman Benoit, who chairs the local service district of West Bay, was one of the first people in her store when she opened it
in 1962. He’s been a loyal customer and friend since.
He used to take her to bingo. In recent years, as she began to have more trouble being mobile, he helped her around the store and home, and dropped off her mail. Benoit agreed the people in West Bay will miss her store because it was the place to go when you ran out of something.
He said it’s more than the store that will be missed.
“Betty is a beautiful person,” he said. “She’s good hearted and treats everyone the same.”
Betty Flynn, who ran Betty’s Grocery and Confectionary in West Bay for 57 years, poses for a photo in her new room in the Acadian Village in Stephenville.
Betty Flynn stands outside the front door of Betty’s Grocery and Confectionary, the store she ran in West Bay, in this undated photo.
Betty Flynn at the counter of Betty’s Grocery and Confectionary, the store she ran in West Bay for 57 years, in this undated photo.