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Stephenville apparel shop recognized for Lifetime Achievement

Bob Byrnes, owner-operator of Byrnes Shoes and Sportwear, in his store at 83 Main St., which has received a business Lifetime Achievement Award for the Long Range area.
Bob Byrnes, owner-operator of Byrnes Shoes and Sportwear, in his store at 83 Main St., which has received a business Lifetime Achievement Award for the Long Range area. - Frank Gale

Byrnes Shoes and Sportswear honoured at Long Range Awards Dinner

As part of Small Business Week activities, a Long Range Awards Dinner was held at Caribou Curling Club in Stephenville on Friday evening, with awards presented to 11 businesses in various categories.

In addition, there was an annual business spotlight award, along with a lifetime achievement award handed out during the event, sponsored by Qalipu First Nation.

Byrnes’s Shoes and Sportswear

Submitted by Bob Byrnes

In 1976, Marie Byrnes started a small ladies’ shoe store with a $3,500 bank loan from Royal Bank of Canada.

She had some experience in business going back to her father, the Late Joseph Gualtois, who had a business in St. George’s, and her brothers Mike, George, Leo and Francis all had successful businesses.

She has also been the office manager at Stephenville Furniture from 1967 to 1975.

In 1975, she decided to leave her position as office manager at Stephenville Furniture and open Byrnes Shoe Store. Always meticulous in her work, she had done her research and opened a store selling ladies’ fashion footwear, purses and accessories.

The store was located next to a bakery owned by Bill Short. She remained there until the bakery to Danny Rosselet. Danny’s Bakery needed room to expand, so the store relocated to its current location at 83 Main St.

Byrnes had quickly developed a loyal group of customers and would charge footwear to her customers on a regular basis. Many people still recall how she would never pressure people to pay their bills, but to pay when they could afford to.

She had a kitchen in back of the store, so customers could have a cup of tea or coffee and something sweet.

With her family grown up and educated, Bynes was starting to enjoy her independence and the success of her business when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She passed away in January 1984 at the age of 63.

Her son Bob, a teacher, took over the business and slowly began to change it into a shoe and sportswear store. The business grew from there and eventually the building was bought from Ben Yen, who had operated a Chinese restaurant in a portion of it.

The shoe store expanded and in 1998 an embroidery and cresting shop was opened next to the shoe store. Twenty years later, Stephenville Embroidery and Cresting is still providing a service to residents of the west coast.

Byrnes Shoes Ltd. is in its 42nd year of business and continues to provide residents of the west coast with top-quality footwear and clothing.

A special award presented during the Long Range Awards Dinner recognizing businesses was the Lifetime Achievement Award that went to Byrnes Shoes and Sportswear. Representing the company are, from left, Janet Byrnes, Heather Byrnes, Bob Byrnes and Laurie Flynn.
A special award presented during the Long Range Awards Dinner recognizing businesses was the Lifetime Achievement Award that went to Byrnes Shoes and Sportswear. Representing the company are, from left, Janet Byrnes, Heather Byrnes, Bob Byrnes and Laurie Flynn.

Long Range Awards winners:

Professional Services Award: Russell’s Funeral Home – owned and operated by Keith Russell and David Mooney in Stephenville.

Youth Business Award: Treasures by Jesse – owned and operated by Jesse Renouf in Stephenville.

Construction and Contracting Award: Western Home Worx – owned and operated by Daniel Flynn in Kippens.

Hospitality and Tourism Award: Killick Café – owned and operated by James and Colleen Gallant in Stephenville.

Sustainability and Environment Award: Romain’s Farm – owned and operated by Ernest and Walter Romain in Port au Port East.

New Business Award: Quality PharmaChoice – owned and operated by Tyler Smith and Merissa Hayley in Lourdes.

Non-Profit Organization Award: Bay St. George Sick Children’s Foundation – operated by a volunteer board and serving the Bay St. George Region.

Retail Sales Award: Lourdes Superette – owned and operated by Virginia Phillips-Duffenais and Louis Duffenais in Lourdes.

Health Services Award: Tabletop Chiropractic – owned and operated by Scott McNeil in Stephenville.

Personal Services Award: Essential Beauty Hair Studio – owned and operated by Nicole Bullen and Krista Tallack in Stephenville.

Franchisee Award: (tie) The Paint Shop – owned and operated by Sheldon and Susan Lane; and Tim Hortons Express – owned and operated by Paul Lawlor.

Lifetime Achievement Award: awarded to Byrnes’ Shoes and Sportswear to celebrate more than 40 years of service. The family-owned business is operated by Bob Byrnes in Stephenville.

Business Spotlight Award: Romain’s Farm – owned and operated by Walter and Ernest Romain in Port au Port East. The farm is over 100 years old and is the oldest farm in the Bay St. George region.

Source: Long Range Small Business Week Committee

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