DULUTH - The Pendleton shirts, Legos, craft supplies and toothbrushes remain, but after 80 years, new owners helm Grand Marais' favorite one-stop-shop, the Joynes Department Store and Ben Franklin.
And to the relief of many, the new owners like it the way it is.
"It's a pillar in our community, a cornerstone kind of place," said Tyler Dean, a Grand Marais native who closed on the store with his wife, Jessica, on Friday. "And it's a proven business that's done well for 80 years."
Third-generation owners Jim and Shanie Joynes took their time choosing a successor when it became clear the fourth generation of the Joynes family wasn't going to run the store, started by Howard and Rosemary Joynes in 1941.
Howard and Rosemary purchased the P.E. Alm store that year in Grand Marais, and built the nearby current location at 105 W. Wisconsin St. in 1955. Howard worked at the store until he died at age 94 in 2012. It stayed in the family, managed by Jim and Shanie, who continued to hold separate careers in Duluth, heading to Grand Marais on weekends.
But the pace couldn't last forever, Jim said, and neither their children nor his sister's children wanted to take over. The idea of approaching the Deans about a potential purchase stemmed from the spring 2020 fire that destroyed three prominent Grand Marais businesses, all on the same street as the Joynes' landmark store.
The Dean family bought the longtime White Pine North shop just three months before the fire. They had intended to rebuild, but steep pandemic-caused construction costs put their plans on hold. Jim and Shanie got to know the Dean family in the aftermath of the fire and knew they found the right fit, approaching the Deans themselves about a potential purchase.
"It wasn't a financial transaction," Jim said. "It was passing the baton to someone with the same background we had growing up in a small town, who knew the challenges of running a business in a hugely cyclical tourist-oriented environment."
Jim, who was reluctant to sell at all, had other offers, he said, including from a Florida man who owned tourist shops in Wisconsin Dells, Wis. His was one of several proposals that would "curl your toes and boil your blood," with ideas that would alter the personality of the cherished town, Jim said, and the Joynes family didn't want to be "a catalyst for change."
"I had great respect for what my grandfather's vision was 80 years ago," said Jim of the man who grew up during the Great Depression. "He worked incredibly hard. He dedicated his life to that store."
Locals and tourists alike appreciate that commitment, said Linda Jurek, executive director of Visit Cook County and new director of the Cook County Chamber of Commerce.
"There is a flavor to it, and we'd never want to see that go away," she said.
Dean, who lived in Switzerland with his wife for several years, has been back home since 2017. He's been managing the store since spring, relishing the chance to see familiar faces pop through the door.
"One of the joys of living on the North Shore is you're in this beautiful place far away. But it's a lot different because you're not 10 minutes away from a Walmart," said Dean, who has no plans to change the name of the store. "It's really a benefit to the community that we have this place."