"Snip" retiring after 37 years at Barnes
For most of the past four decades the city of Falmouth has seen numerous change throughout its business landscape with few entities or individuals withstanding the test of time. One constant that has endured is an individual whose warm, sincere, and one-of-a-kind personality has been welcoming customers from near and far into Barnes Hardware and Lumber.
Bernard “Snip” Owens, 68, has been a staple of the locally-owned, family business since coming on as a full-time employee in 1981. His connection to the business actually dates back nearly a half century. He recently made the decision to retire and move on to the next phase of his life, and his impact on the community and lives he’s touched over the years is something that many feel can never be measured.
“I just feel like it’s time,” Owens said. “I’ll always be grateful to the wonderful people I’ve worked for and with here, but more than anything, I’ll miss the customers. I may not know everyone’s names, but I remember faces. I can also tell you where every item is located in this store or if we carry it. I’ve got a memory like a steel trap,” he says with a grin.
Snip, given the nickname by his grandfather at a young age, joined the store following the recommendation of his good friend, Clyde Parker, who at the time owned Parker Ready-Mix on N. Liberty St to store owner; Vivian Barnes. From there he quickly asserted himself as a versatile employee who brought a wealth of knowledge and expertise in a variety of fields. To this day he still prides himself in being able to provide same-day service for customers ranging from glass to screen repair.
“The people who come through the doors or call always ask for Snip, that’s just the way it is, said longtime co-owner and manager, Marc Gilbert. “His impact to our business is immeasurable and he is irreplaceable. His willingness to go above and beyond for our customers is second to none.”
According to fellow co-owner and manager, Becky Thomas, the greatest asset Snip brought to the store was the qualities he possesses as a person. Both started at the store together 37 years ago and have grown to be as close as siblings.
“I look at Snip like I do my brothers. I have learned so much from him over the years and I hope that just a small part of his kindness, compassion and enthusiasm has rubbed off on me. He brings old-fashioned values to our store and is very generous.
For years he has raised numerous gardens in his free time and given every bit of his fruits and vegetables away to the customers. He’s always looking out for everyone else first and you just don’t see much of that anymore, she explained.
Snip will also be remembered for his exceptional sense of dedication and durability. For many years he has arrived consistently 30 minutes before the store would open to get an early head start on prepping for the business day. In the early 2000’s he had his gall bladder removed and showed up for work the next day ready to contribute, even if it had to be light duty. He will also go down as the only non-family member employee in the 73 year history of the store to have the authority to write business checks on behalf of Gilbert and Thomas. He has earned that level of trust.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes in this store just like other places in the town. Good times, bad times and lots of new things, like doing a lot of work with computers. I can handle it pretty well, but honestly I can probably do it faster using a pencil and writing out a ticket like the old days,”