Founder of Grand Marais' Joynes Department Store dies

Howard Joynes, who founded the well-known Joynes Department Store in Grand Marais and worked there for more than 70 years, died on Friday. He was 94.

Howard Joynes

Howard Joynes, who founded the well-known Joynes Department Store in Grand Marais and worked there for more than 70 years, died on Friday. He was 94.

Joynes and his wife, Rosemary, had graduated from the University of Minnesota and gotten married in 1941 when they decided to return to Grand Marais, his hometown. They bought the P.A. Alm Store downtown and reopened it as the Joynes Federated Store, said his granddaughter, Julie Carlson.

In 1954 they built a new store across the street and affiliated with the Ben Franklin chain, said Carlson, who runs the store now with her husband, Rodney.

But Joynes' career in sales actually started long before 1941.

"He had a real hard childhood growing up, and he started selling notions door to door when he was 8 years old to help his mother out," Carlson said. "He started out peddling notions from a little wagon."


Joynes Department Store would never be mistaken for a Walmart or a Target, said Jim Johnson, 67, a Grand Marais native who first knew Joynes as his Scoutmaster when he was growing up.

"The aisles are narrow and they're jammed with goods, and I think that's kind of what people are attracted to when they first come in there," Johnson said.

He compared it to Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery, a store in Garrison Keillor's fictional Lake Wobegon where "if you can't get it at Ralph's you can probably get along without it."

That's very close to the philosophy Joynes established at his store, Carlson said.

"It was always Howard's goal to have a little bit of everything but not a lot of anything," Carlson said. "So that anybody could find anything they needed or wanted or something very similar."

Joynes lived in his home until 2005, when he was severely burned while burning brush, she said. After that, he lived at the Cook County Care Center, but walked to work every day until he turned 91. When he learned that Arrowhead Transit offered free bus rides to those older than 90, he started taking the bus, she said. In recent months he had reduced his visits to the store, calling for a ride when he wanted to come in. He continued to do that until falling ill a couple of weeks ago.

In addition to running the store, Joynes was active in the community. He was a past president of the local Chamber of Commerce, and volunteered with the Grand Marais Lions Club, Masonic Lodge 322, Cook County Historical Society and Grand Marais Fire Department. He was an avid skier.

But the store was his passion.


"He focused on his business very intently," Johnson said.

Carlson called her grandfather "a very determined, focused man. When he set a goal there was nobody who would stop him from reaching his goal. He was a little on the stubborn side. Maybe a lot on the stubborn side."

The Carlsons' teenage sons work in the store, marking the family's fourth generation in the business. Carlson said she and her husband plan to continue Joynes' legacy.

Joynes was preceded in death by his wife and son, Richard. He is survived by daughter-in-law Margaret "Skip" Joynes of Grand Marais, grandson Jim Joynes of Duluth, granddaughter Julie (Rodney) Carlson of Grand Marais and four great-grandchildren.

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