It’s easy to find The Scope. Go to pretty much any shop on the North-East Avalon and it’s probably just inside the door—from Her Majesty’s Penitentiary to Mount Pearl City Hall, from Seal Cove to Torbay. In honour of our big 100th, Martin Connelly visited a handful of distro spots on the edges and in between.
Brian, Kate and Donny at Mrs. Liddy’s
The story of Mrs. Liddy’s bar varies with who you talk to and how much they’ve had to drink. According to Kathy King, behind the bar, it’s not only the oldest bar in Newfoundland, it’s the “oldest establishment in North America.”
If you believe King and her devoted patrons, Mrs. Liddy’s has a colourful history indeed. Before it was a bar, they say, Liddy’s was a hotel frequented mostly by honeymooning couples from St. John’s—back when they had to come on horse and buggy. At some point it was a pharmacy. For a long time, it was a men-only bar, and the only women were the servers, and at that time, for some reason, you couldn’t drink at Liddy’s unless you came from more than three miles away. And there used to be a wall separating Catholics from Protestants.
And the pool table is broken.
And there’s a juke box, but it only plays the Sons of Erin.
Whatever the truth, it’s a great place. Patron Mark Foley sums it up nicely: “People come in for a laugh and a drink,” he laughs. “And usually more than one drink.”
It’s open from noon to 2am, and everyone is a regular. There’s live music every second Friday.
Andrea Sturge of Home Hardware
There’s only one hardware store where you can find The Scope, and that’s Home Hardware in the Villa Nova Plaza. The store has been around for twenty years or so, and Andrea Sturge has been there for 17 of them. Along with Sturge, there are 24 or 25 other people on staff, most of them young, and working part-time. The full-timers have all been there the long haul, and it shows. “We’re like a big happy family,” says Sturge. She says people come to the store from all over the island, including a lot from St. Mary’s. “Mostly they stay and chat a bit,” she says, “Then there’s some just in and out.”
The Home Hardware in Manuels has won the chain’s Canada-wide “Store of the Year” award twice. There’s a corporate judge in charge of the Atlantic provinces, and he grades the store on everything from hygiene to personality. The honor comes with a golden shovel, and major bragging rights. “We also do a pancake breakfast every year during CBS Days,” says Sturge, “We donate everything, and it’s a really good day.”
Dwight Brown of Brown’s Store
Portugal Cove Road
Brown’s store was opened 43 years ago, and it’s still a family business. Dwight Brown and his sister Janice took the convenience store over from their parents about 30 years ago, and they’re hanging on, working from 7:30am until 11pm every day.
“It’s a sickness, really,” says Brown. “We just don’t have the sense to get out of it. Bad as being an alcoholic.”
But it’s obvious that the store, and it’s distinctive, old-timey feel, is important to both Brown and his patrons. “You know everybody,” he says. “You know their kids and their grandkids, you know when people get married and when they die.” He also gets new faces every year—the store is just down the road from the technical college, so there are a lot of students in the neighborhood.
People talk politics and weather in the store, and Brown says that makes sense: “It’s what we got here.” Sunday used to be his best day, when grocery stores weren’t allowed to open, but that law has long since changed. “Everything comes back to the government,” he laughs.
Now Friday and Saturday nights are his busiest times, with beer and lottery ticket sales. “We don’t have the buying power of Sobeys or Dominion,” says Brown, “but beer and tickets cost the same everywhere.”
Justin Pitt of Strictly Adult Video
STRICTLY ADULT VIDEO
Justin Pitt, manager of Strictly Adult Video, is a pretty straightforward guy. Most of their business is rentals, but they also sell DVDs, magazines, and a newly expanded selection of toys. Like Brown’s Store, business is best Friday and Saturday nights, and before a holiday.
“Valentines Day, Christmas, pretty much any holiday,” says Pitt. “Most of the patrons are in and out pretty quick, but you get some characters. Couples tend to be chatty, especially if they’re looking in the new toy section.”
Strictly Adult has a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account. The fan page was started by someone who really liked the sign outside the store, which features a saucy new title every other week—always something that’s really in their catalogue. The Twitter account is a recent addition, and it’s also a title showcase, usually for things that might not be appropriate on the sign, like “Hell’s Kitchen with Chef Rams Me.”
But Pitt’s not worried that people will just download their porn while they’re checking out his tweets.
“It’s a matter of convenience,” says Pitt. “You don’t have to download anything, and DVDs come with multiple scenes. Plus we have stuff to go with it.”
Have a favourite place to pick up The Scope? Let us know in the comments.