Many friends and colleagues dropped in with retirement best wishes for Shea as he pulled the pin on a career in retail that has spanned 54 years.
Shea officially retired the day before his 70th birthday.
He’s going to miss the people most of all, he said.
“The ones who come in and ask you to do this or do that, or coming in just to see you,” he said, describing some of the regulars he encountered at the store.
Among those who stopped in on his last day was Lawson Adams, who joked he was there to hear Shea’s retirement speech. He said he’d settle for reading about it.
“They love to be tormented, and they will torment you right back,” Shea said of the fun he’s had on the job. “In this you’ve got to take it and give it at the same time.”
Shea got his start in retail working for Jim Myrick when he was just 16 years old. When Perley and Wesley Hardy took over the operation of Myricks store in Alberton, he went to work for them. They later sold to Holmans, and Shea found himself working for that company for five years.
It was when Holmans went out of business five years later that Shea went on employment insurance for the first time in his life.
“I was never so happy to get back to work,” he recalled of the opportunity he was offered to go work for Arthur Lewis at Alberton Home Hardware.
He worked for Lewis from 1985 until the business was sold to Tignish Co-op in 2010, staying at Home Hardware with the co-operative until his retirement.
One of Shea’s characteristics has been his pace, zipping through the aisles of the store. Customers would be hard-pressed to keep up.
“They say I got that from my father, but that’s it: one speed,” he acknowledges.
Shea, who started planning for his retirement three months ago, said he has no big plans.
“I will find something to do,” he said, suggesting moving snow and cutting grass will take up some of his available time.
And he thinks he might finally get to visit his sister who has been in Newfoundland since 1968.
He’s also told the staff that he will be dropping in to the store to see them.