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Randells witnessed many changes in four decades of business

Jim and Barbara Randell of Roddickton-Bide Arm operated James Randell and Sons in Bide Arm for almost four decades. - Contributed
Jim and Barbara Randell of Roddickton-Bide Arm operated James Randell and Sons in Bide Arm for almost four decades. - Contributed

Proud connection to Roddickton-Bide Arm

RODDICKTON-BIDE ARM, N.L. – Jim and Barbara Randell of Roddickton-Bide Arm were business owners for almost four decades.

The Randells bought Frank Randell and Sons in Bide Arm in August 1977 and renamed the business James Randell and Sons.

For the first five years, Jim continued with his teaching career while Barbara worked in the store full-time.

Jim then left teaching to devote his time to the business. Doing so meant his wife could cut back to part-time hours.

Jim worked in the business full-time until it was sold in May 2016.

The general store stocked groceries, a bit of hardware and a small amount of building supplies. Jim purchased more property to expand his company – growing his business from one structure to four buildings.

“When I bought it, it had one building. I added to that and then I built a big shed for building supplies. I acquired another building across the road (which used to be the old two-room school). I expanded on that and then, on the same side as the main building, was another building and I bought that, too,” Jim said.

The Randells witnessed many changes in how businesses were run over the years.

“When we started out there was no Interact. No credit cards, really. We went to the bank every week with our deposits,” Jim said.

“We had the old type weigh scales... and you would weigh things in pounds. You had to take a pen and paper then and compute the cost to what it was per ounce. It was a lot of using your brain back then,” the friendly senior chuckled.

It wasn’t long before things changed, Jim said. The metric system came into effect and digital scales became popular.

The introduction of Interac Direct Payment for purchasing goods and services also made a big difference in how business was conducted, Jim said.

In addition to their store in Bide Arm, the Randells also had a store in Roddickton for 17 years.

“We extended on the business in Roddickton, too, with a big warehouse,” Barbara recalled.

Being business owners meant long hours and little time off. However, the couple said, people in Bide Arm and surrounding communities always supported them.

Giving back

Jim and Barbara enjoyed giving back to the community – to the people who were there for their family through the decades.

Jim served as the Town of Bide Arm’s mayor for eight years and also volunteered on the Rural Development Committee.

Both Jim and Barbara were also quick to come onboard with any fundraising that took place.

Barbara said Bide Arm is a great place to raise a family.

She enjoyed working in the family business, she said, in both Bide Arm and Roddickton.

Jim will mark his 71st birthday Aug. 27. Barb is 69.

The Randells have four children, all of whom are living in this province.

Hillary Randell describes her grandparents as hard working people with a great work ethic.

“On top of that, they are the kind of people who would lend a helping hand to anyone, give to anyone who is in need and have plenty of love and kindness to share,” she said.

Her grandparents are a true example of how you should treat people, she said, and how respect and understanding should be shared with everyone.

Hillary said it’s those special qualities that have earned her grandparents so much respect in the community and made them such successful business owners over the years.

“I admire them for that,” she said.

More time

Since selling the business two years ago, Jim has more time for the things he loves.

“I do a little bit of boating, hunting and fishing. Wintertime it’s ski-dooing. I like going in the woods and cutting a bit of firewood.”

While he’s enjoying his retirement, Jim said, he still misses the business.

“I miss getting up in the morning and having a place to go. I miss dealing with the public, the customers and all that goes with that” he said.


The Northern Pen’s recurring feature looks at the lives of seniors along the Northern Peninsula and southern Labrador. If you know a local senior with an interesting story to tell, email or call The Northern Pen: or 709-454-2191.

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