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Photo of Wallace James Ryan by Sydney Blackmore.

Sydney Blackmore screams for ice cream.

Ryan’s Dynasty
Wallace James Ryan —a business veteran of Moo Moo’s Dairy Bar fame—has, at 78, made the decision to retire.
“I’m in the business now longer than Confederation,” he says. “It’s been 65 years altogether now.”

The Ryan family have been at it even longer than that: it’s been almost a century since they started making business their business. They’ve fared through World War II, recession in the 70s, and recession in the 90s.

“We started with Royal Grocers downtown on Holdsworth Street, across from City Hall. My father started it when he came back from the First World War, around 1918. I went to work with him during the war years as a boy.”

It was 1947 that the young Ryan took up the family business, eventually making Royal Grocers a fixture not only for the city residents but people on Bell Island as well. “We used to ship two truckloads of groceries a week there when its mines were in full swing.”

In 1963, he opened a wholesale grocery location at 88 Kings Road, and in 1970 became one of the first buildings to open in Donovan’s Industrial Park.

Ryan was there when the first big grocery stores took root in the province. Increasing competition meant trouble for small-time grocers and convenience stores, forcing many to close—but not the Ryans’.

“We just stuck at it,” says Ryan. “We made changes all the time. But you’ve got to know when to run too.”
On the insistence of his children, Wallace brought the clan into the ice cream business in 1989.

“Ice cream has been one of our saviours here, because we don’t sell a lot of groceries these days,” he says. “The ice cream makes it worthwhile.”

He’ll soon be handing the reins to three of his seven children: Lisa, Jeffrey and Ruth Anna. But it’ll be hard for him to keep away, he says.

“There’s a saying about retiring, ‘the hardest thing in the world that you can do is nothing.’ Think about that.”
Here’s wishing Mr. Ryan an enjoyable retirement!

New structure
Katie Burke and Jessica Mealey are opening an exclusively plus-size boutique in Churchill Square called Structure Wardrobe and Styling. The business idea came about after the pair made the move to Montreal last spring, where Mealey found work as a qualitative research analyst and Burke worked in fashion distribution. The two put their yin and yang together and devised a business plan for a clothing store for women sizes 14 and up.
Says Burke, “There’s not really anywhere outside of the box-clothing store that plus sized women can get anything suitable to wear.”

“And this was in Montreal even!“ adds Mealey. “We could argue that over 50% of women wear a size 14 and up, and it’s ridiculous that a specific demographic is ignored in a lot of areas of fashion.”

After some number crunching by Burke and industry feedback via Mealey, they made the decision to bring their business venture to St. John’s, and on May 1, Structure will open in Churchill Square. The clothing in the store will range from casual, to formal, to career wear. Some brands to look out for include Monif C, Kiyonna and the Canadian line Candi’D Apple Couture.

The curvy clothes and store services will make Structure a true ‘women’s club’, says Burke.

“There’s a studio area where customers can have a private chat with us, if they’re interested in learning how to dress for a specific body type, or need some help style-wise.” Wardrobe consultations are complimentary, and make-up consultations will be possible for a fee.

To learn more about Structure’s opening, check out www.structurenl.com, or contact Mealey and Burke via e-mail at info@structurenl.com.

Planned move
The Planned Parenthood Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Health Centre is looking to change the 203 Merrymeeting Road address it’s had for over 30 years.

“This building has been good to us, but it’s starting to need a lot of renovations,” explains Planned Parenthood’s executive director, Costa Kasimos. “We’re putting this building up for sale and we would like to be in a new building before next winter.”

Planned Parenthood is a non-profit, pro-choice sexual health organization that has been serving the province since 1972. The Merrymeeting road location became property of the organization back in 1982.

“A lot of people have found out they were pregnant here,” says Kasimos.

Finding a bigger space will address some key issues for Planned Parenthood, says Kasimos. “Here, we have a wheelchair accessible bathroom and clinic downstairs, but the top floor clinic is not accessible, so we would like to change that.”

The centre also lacks adequate parking, storage, office and meeting space for its patients, employees, board members and volunteers. “We’ve just outgrown this building.”

The new building will remain within centre city and close to the university, as many patients are students, says Kasimos.

Planned Parenthood is currently accepting donations for its relocation mission. Donation information and a listing of the centre’s health services can be found online at www.nlsexualhealthcentre.org.

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