Grass Valley businesses Betty’s Toy Box, Ray’s Auto shut doors |

Grass Valley businesses Betty’s Toy Box, Ray’s Auto shut doors

Dave Brooksher
Staff Writer

Betty's Toy Box and Ray's Automotive Service, both at 716 E. Main St. in Grass Valley, are now permanently closed due to the recent deaths of Ray and Betty Lewis. Ray opened his auto shop in 1972, and the toy store served this community for roughly 20 years.

A note has been posted on the doors of both shops.

"Dad kept it open, probably because he couldn't bear the thought of closing it after losing her," said Ray Lewis Jr., Betty's stepson. "Then he passed away the 24th of December.

"Oddly enough," he added, "that was her birthday."

As directed in his father's trust, Ray Jr. will be liquidating the inventories of both businesses. They've dealt with many of the auto shop's vendors, and he's selling the toy store's inventory to Swasey's Public Wholesale.

Mark Swasey has always wanted to go into the hobby shop business but wasn't sure the area could support two stores. Out of respect for Ray and Betty, he never went forward.

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"Ray's condition was really going downhill, and they were probably going to close the store," Swasey said. "Just before Ray passed away, they gave Ray Jr. the OK to make a deal with us."

Swasey plans to move Betty's inventory into his shop at 140 E. McKnight Way. It should be available to customers by March 1. He's calling it a soft reopening.

People looking to order parts and other supplies have already started coming in.

Swasey says that growing up in Grass Valley, his grandfather was friends with Ray back in the 1970s. He grew close to the Lewis family about 10 years ago when his friend Tim, Ray's son, died of cancer.

Swasey remembers Ray and Betty Lewis fondly.

"They were good folks, and very hardworking. They were really pillars in this community," Swasey said. "I felt blessed to know them, and we'll do our best to carry on the tradition."

To contact Staff Writer Dave Brooksher, email or call 530-477-4230.

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