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Mr. Arthur’s store back in business

Front Pages 15 Dec, 2022 Follow News

Mr. Arthur’s store back in business

the whole family, all together to celebrate the reopening of Mr. Arthur’s famous store in North Church Street. Picture includes Truman Bodden, O.B.E, his daughters Alexandra and Roberta, grandchildren

Alexandra and her father, Truman, stand in the store under a picture of Mr. Arthur Bodden.

Left to right, Miss Valonie, Truman Bodden O.B.E, Roberta, Alexandra and her husband, Mitchel.

Miss Valonie, who has served the store and the tourists and the people of George Town so faithfully.

By Christopher Tobutt 

It used to be called the “Seven-Eleven,” but now the little white weatherboard store on George Town waterfront has reopened after Covid, with a new name, “Mr Arthurs,” in memory of Authur Bodden, who also ran the print shop situated across the road for many years. Its one of the most historical landmarks in George Town on the waterfront at North Church Street, and it was originally begun by Mr. Waide Bodden 125 years ago, whose son, Arthur Bodden took it over. It has withstood many storms and hurricanes during that time, including hurricane Ivan and the hurricane of 1932.

It’s a very important landmark for a number of reasons, not least of which is that one of Cayman’s most influential and respected former Leader of Government Business from 1995 to 2000, Truman Bodden O.B.E, used to work in the store, helping his father after he came home from school. Since reopening, his daughter, Alexandra Bodden-Wright runs the store with her husband, Mitchell Wright, in much the same way as it has always been run, and it sells the same kind things that it has always sold: patties, snacks, sandwiches, cold drinks and all kinds of groceries plus household items. Tourists love to go in there because it feels as if they are stepping back in time.

“It was my grandfather’s, shop first, and then my father’s, and subsequently it belonged to my sister, Arthlyn, and now it has moved on to Alexandra and Mitchel Wright, her husband. It just about sold everything: Sugar flour cornmeal and candies which I remember really well, soap powder, and was one of the main stores other than Merren’s in town that was much larger.” All the family had come for the reopening and it was a wonderful sight to see. They invited Miss Valonie to open the store with a prayer, blessing the store and the Cayman Islands. Not all the old ways nor the old values are gone.

Alexandra said, “I grew up in the little house across the street and when my mom was at work I would come and spend time with my grandmother in the house next door, or my grandfather in the shop here. All the cousins took turns working in the shop, learning how to handle money. Miss Velonie has been working in the store for 40 years with my aunt, Miss Arthlyn. The shop closed in 2020 with Covid and was quite badly vandalized during the lockdown. Sadly, Arthlyn was quite sick and she passed last year, so my husband and I took over, and with the blessings of the family, restored the building and now we’ve opened it up. We are trying to support local lines We’ve got all the traditional items everyone knows it for like the corned beef sandwiches and the patties, but we’ve also got my cousin’s Teatime in Cayman teas, we’ve got Cayman Sea Salt, and we’ve got Miss Carson’s Jams and Jellies, and we’ve got Mr. Strad’s Cayman Raw Honey.”

On one of the walls is a lovely painting of Mr. Arthur in the store. They have retained a lot of the old atmosphere. “We had scales for weighing everything – the beans, the cheese, the meat,” Mr. Bodden said.” Alexandra explained that one of Mitchells’ innovations has been to put a lovely wooden deck around the back, and Alexandra said she is thinking of possibly having some tables and chairs for tourists to come and enjoy their snacks and drinks there. Now wouldn’t that just be lovely?

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