Barbara Barkley starts the next chapter of her life armed with the original ice cream scoop she used when she first came to work at the shop in 1986. Morin Photo
WINCHESTER – A bit of the areas history is slipping away as Barbara Barkley, owner of the Cass Bridge Gift Shop decides to retire.
She first worked at the shop when it was a cheese house back in 1986.
Eventually she would purchase the store as times changed and appetites went from local cheese to great gift ideas.
The gift shop in many ways has been a constant in her life and now it is time for her to move on.
The pandemic was a gentle reminder of how small business was in a fragile position even at the best of times.
Now, to Barbara, seemed to be the perfect time to retire.
Barbara and her husband Raymond, who has been retired now for three years, are excited about this next chapter.
“It’s bitter sweet,” said Barbara.
“I have met lots of people.”
One of her daily tasks each day over the years was scooping out ice cream to visitors to her shop. That memory is so meaningful to her that the only thing she is keeping as a souvenir from her business is one of the original ice cream scopes she has been using since she first started working at the shop.
“I have made friendships I would never have had if not for the business.
I will miss those certain ones,” she said.
“There are people coming in here now for ice cream that I certainly served their parents when they were children.”
She estimates she has served hundreds of thousands of ice cream cones over the years.
The Cass Bridge Gift store was the place to go every Christmas or special occasion for that special gift. Many of her items were difficult to find elsewhere which made what she offered all that more special and sought after.
Ault Foods originally owned the shop. It was a factory outlet for their cheese.
“I managed the store part-time in 1985 and full time in 1986,” said Barbara.
In 1993 Ault Foods made a decision to close these little food outlets throughout the countryside.
“They gave the managers the option of staying on so I thought I’m already here. I have already established the business, for the first few years I kept it the way it was.
Then you could see cheese getting more expensive. You could see it changing.
I slowly started to introduce other products. I went on from there.”
She feels the popularity of her gift shop was because of the quality and variety of items she carried.
“I knew my clients and what they liked.”
When she decided she wanted to retire she put her building up for sale imagining someone might want to buy it as a gift shop.
“It was listed as is or as business. I thought maybe someone would want to come in and continue on.”
In the end the building sold very quickly but the new owners were not interested in running the gift shop.
“I am not sure what they are going to do but it will not be a gift shop.”
She had to clear all of her stock out of the building.
“I have had had a few days of selling at 40 per cent off. Now I am doing a bit of curbside. I will take an item to the door to show it.
Several of the display units have been sold.”
Her plan is to re-open on May 6 to clear the rest of her stock out and then hand over the empty shop to the new owners on May 28.
The past few weeks she has been busy clearing out her basement and now she is focusing on the main floor of the shop.
To contact the Cass Bridge Gift Shop call 613-774-3353.