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Owen St. 'groceteria' had long history serving neighbourhood needs (8 photos)

Arguably Barrie's smallest standalone variety store in its day, and perhaps until it closed a few years ago, wee structure still an eye-catcher

Nancy Bauldry doesn’t have far to look to see her family’s history laid out in front of her.

Her Owen Street home, south of Grove Street, is the same house she grew up in.

And the building across the street  now a sleek and 21st-century looking affair  used to be a store her grandfather Henry Bauldry started from scratch way back when. Details are limited, but they think it was 1949.

Arguably the smallest standalone variety store in Barrie in the day, and perhaps until it closed a few years ago, the tiny structure is an eye-catcher.

So just why is it so small?

That was Henry’s big idea, his granddaughter tells BarrieToday.

“The story I heard was it was because my grandfather used to work for hydro and had access to a whole bunch of hydro poles and that was the length of the wood he had,” Nancy says. “So that was the size he made it.”

She worked in the store from the time she was 15 years old until she was 20, when the business changed hands in 1985.

“I have lots of memories,” Nancy says. “I worked there with my uncle  his real name was George, but everyone called him Bud  and my dad Kenneth every weekend and everyday during the summer. We were open Monday to Saturday, nine to six.”

The shop has gone through some name changes over the years, from just Bauldrys to Bauldry’s Groceteria to Bauldry’s to I Forgot Variety Store.

“They had everything just packed into that little store. There was a lot more in that store than in the convenience stores today,” says Nancy, adding despite the cramped quarters, the family still managed to squeeze in two freezers and two refrigerators.

“At one point, they did sliced meat like a deli, but that was before my time."

It was a neighbourhood store so familiar to locals, she says.

“That’s all I knew growing up. It was just across the street,” Nancy says. “You could get a few things without going to one of the big grocery stores.

“Everybody went there for cigarettes, too. That was a time back in the day when a kid could have a note from his parents to bring home a pack of cigarettes.”