Joey’s closing up shop – Main street staple opens its doors for the last time

Students line up outside Joey's Sweets and Things for an end of year treat. The store had its last day June 21.

Students line up outside Joey’s Sweets and Things for an end of year treat. The store had its last day June 21.

The signs have been up for months, but last week the day finally arrived; Joey’s Sweets and Things opened its doors for the last time last Saturday and will now be closed for good.

“We’ve been in business 26 years, and now we’ve all retired from our previous careers; it’s just time,” said Diane Field, one of the store’s three co-owners. “Chasing kids around the store in our wheelchairs and walkers just won’t do it.”

Joey’s opened on the main floor of the Mackenzie Place high rise 26 years ago as a result of co-owner Shari Burnstad’s life-long dream of owning a craft store. Her sister and fellow owner Pat Burnstad said that in a small town, a craft-store wouldn’t survive on its own, so they branched out to also sell candy, gifts and other items.

Field had another explanation for why the women started the business, albeit a shorter one.

“Insanity,” she said laughing. “But it’s been very rewarding.”

While both Field and Pat Burnstad said they would miss aspects of the work, the latter noted that she looked forward to the freedom of a proper retirement.

“It’s not like I don’t enjoy the store anymore,” said Burnstad. “But it’s hard to feel like you can’t just pick up and leave without putting someone else out.”
She said she was looking forward to spending time at the beach with her painting easel and travelling more.

“I’ve made good friends here – you get to meet so many people – and some of them have become part of the family,” she said. “I’m going to miss that part.”

Field said the part she would miss most was the children who frequented the store, mostly to buy candy and ice cream in the summer.

All former teachers, the women had a rule about not allowing kids to buy anything during class-time. While unpopular at first, Burnstad said students got used to the idea and quickly learned to respect it without ire.

“The kids have been amazing,” said Field. “They’re coming in here, offering to work for free if we’ll only stay open.”

Burnstad recounted how just recently a young man had come in to the store and hugged her, saying how he had always been awake in class in the afternoon after a trip to Joey’s and thanking her for her years of work.

“It’s just been so great to see so many of them grow up,” she said, noting that some of the younger customers she sees now are the children – and even grandchildren – of students she taught.

But she agreed that the time had come to close the doors and move on.

“We’ve had a lot of good times here,” she said, smiling. “But it’s time for something else now.”

-Sarah Ladik