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After 54 years, Arlims changes hands

Arlims staff just before the grand re-opening on June 3. From left: Kyle Target, Ross Ryan (owner), Lorraine Gaudet, Tracy Boland (owner) , Davena Alyward, Ida Lecintre, Mitzi Basha. Not shown: Lisa Young, Gloria Janes. – Submitted photo

By Jaymie L. White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

STEPHENVILLE — For 60 years, Arlims has been a pillar in the Bay St. George area, drawing people in from near and far to purchase not just gifts and souvenirs that depict some of the best aspects of life in Newfoundland and Labrador, but also their large variety of clothing and fabric options. Arlims may be under new ownership, but the heart and soul of the business will remain much the same. On Saturday, June 3, Arlims celebrated its grand re-opening, a tribute to those who made Arlims what it is today, and an introduction to the new faces patrons will see when they walk through the front doors. People came out in force to chat with new owners Tracy Boland and Ross Ryan. Boland is over the moon that her dream of owning Arlims has become a reality. “Danny (Soucy) was a lifelong friend of my family. I grew up with Danny and my Dad golfing as a kid. One day at my dad’s 80th birthday party, Danny showed up and I asked Danny if he ever sells Arlims to sell it to me,” said Boland. “His response was okay, and that lit the bulb of wanting it. I then began talking to my husband about it and together we started to really look into it. Then COVID hit and it was too high risk with the future of retail, so we backed off.” That setback, while lengthy, proved temporary. On Apr. 1, Boland and Ryan officially took ownership of Arlims. “My husband and I grew up shopping with our parents as young kids. We shopped there as kids ourselves. It was always a store that we went to, to look at the fish and animals that they had at the time. It was also a place to buy candy and other things. It was a fun store that Ross and I loved going to as kids and again as adults. Arlims is a place we call home. We really couldn’t imagine it shutting down. That would be heartbreaking for a lot of us who grew up in Stephenville and the surrounding communities. As teens we all grew up sitting on the window ledges on a Friday and Saturday night as a hang out. There were no cell phones back then, so that’s how we found out where the parties were,” chuckled Boland. “When the opportunity came up to buy it, it was a no brainer. We decided to take it on. Danny Soucy and Fred Hiscock built a store that kept our community together and we can only hope we can continue their legacy.” Boland was obviously enjoying herself at the grand re-opening, greeting and thanking customers. “The grand re-opening was simply amazing. For us it wasn’t about making profits. It was more about honouring Danny and Fred’s legacy and hoping all the people that worked at Arlims and their friends would drop in, and they sure did. It was a great day. Fred wasn’t able to make it, but Danny had a great day. It was a wonderful way to bring the community together and that was exactly what we wanted. We had wonderful feedback on our big day and lots of amazing support from the community and the business community.” Boland wants to combine new ideas with the iconic experience that customers already enjoy. “We plan to really go towards tourism for Newfoundland. We want to keep it the same but also throw in modern improvements. “We are always looking for new ideas and ways to change things up. We are always open to new things that will improve our business and we like to work with everyone in the business community. If we don’t have it, we always recommend a business locally who may have it. We think the customer really appreciates that.” So far Boland is enjoying the foray into retail ownership. “We love Arlims. It’s a fun job. When shipments arrive it’s like Christmas. We also love the people who shop there. We see people dropping in that we haven’t seen in years. Arlims always brings people home.” Boland also made a point to thank the staff, both past and current. “We are grateful that we have such an amazing staff, and as for Danny Soucy and Fred Hiscock, they are what made Arlims what it is today, a place everyone loves to shop. Combined they ran Arlims for the last 54 years. Hats off to those guys who are hard workers and still today have lots of drive and energy to help us roll into the business,” said Boland. “The support we got from our grand re-opening was truly amazing. We cannot thank our customers enough for supporting our local business. Supporting us supports our communities, and it doesn’t get any better than that.” That support for Arlims will be crucial for the new owners. “The most important thing to my husband, Ross, and I is, in fact, customer service. We welcome anyone in our business. Everyone will be treated the same no matter what. We want people to feel at home when they enter our store. We want our store to be known for its customer service, because at the end of the day for us the customer comes first.” Boland hopes to see a lot of new faces coming into Arlims. “Summer is fast approaching and we are getting ready for the tourists. Summer is our busiest time of year and we really want to make the tourists feel very welcome. That is very important to us as business owners. We want to show the tourists what Newfoundlanders are really all about, being kind and giving as well as helpful.”

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