The illustrious history of the Bow-mart

The Bow-Mart began as a small summer cottage on Government Road. Dave Moon bought it in 1957, did extensive renovations and opened Moon’s Café.  There was a 10-foot fluorescent moon mounted on the roof.  It was visible from the ferry. At the time it was one of the very few places to eat on the island. Moon’s café catered to the loggers, road crews and locals. 

Helen and Ralph Holte, along with their friend Alec McLennan bought the building from Dave Moon in 1970. They removed the booths to make room for grocery shelves but the counter and stools were left intact. The Bow-Mart welcomed its first customers in 1971. The store was well stocked with canned goods, packaged goods and fresh produce. The Bow-Mart is still remembered for its penny candy, Ralph’s soup and Helen’s pies. Anyone who had the chance to visit Bow-Mart will remember the red vinyl stools, ice cream freezer and the Campbell’s soup display. 

Ralph Holt died in 1972 and Alec died in 1986. Helen ran the business on her own for years. 

As Helen grew older, the grocery aspect dwindled and Helen concentrated on basic dinner items. She continued, to the delight of the children, to carry penny candy. In later years, the Bow-Mart became a comfortable place for a group of islands friends, like Scotty Waters and Archie Buchanan, to get together for coffee. The gang was sometimes referred to as the “Senators” and the Bow-Mart as the “Bowen Men’s Club”. 

Helen Holte died in 2004. 

Comments from the forum in 2006 revealed some fond and funny memories.

Peter wrote: The best story I heard is the one which attained legendary status - never confirmed but never denied either… that Yoko Ono pulled up in the limo looking to find a house for sale in Hood Point, and that Helen rebuffed her, saying she served coffee, not directions.

Stacy wrote: In the mid to late 70s all of us teenagers used to hang out there. It was for the entertainment factor. Where else could you order a hot chocolate and have Alec spit in it as he handed it to you. I used to feel sorry for inexperienced tourists trying to get directions or for that matter even trying to purchase something.

Aaron wrote: I remember after first moving to the island going to the Bow-Mart for the special old pops. They used to be $.50 and after drinking them, sitting right outside the Bow-Mart on the storage box, we would return them for $.10 and then use that to buy more candy.

David wrote: I went in one day and the place was empty and asked what the soup of the day was. “Chicken noodle,” Helen replied. “That sounds good. I’ll have that.”  Then Helen replied, “There’s only one bowl left.” I said, that’s okay I just one want one.  “Nope, that one is for Stan”. I hope Stan enjoyed it.

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