Rocky Ridge Farm Market closes today

March 28, 1997



Staff Writers

STATE LINE - A popular lunch and grocery shopping stop on U.S. 11 is closing today after 29 years.

Rocky Ridge Farm Market has served hot meals, including homemade soup and Uncle Ivan's Fried Chicken, to Citicorp employees, truckers, construction workers and other local residents for years.

"They're all moaning and groaning about where they're going to go," said Marlene Eckstine, store manager.

Indeed, the last few shoppers Friday were looking pained as they wound their way through the aisles, many of which were nearly empty of groceries.


"It's kind of weird," said Faye Gardiner, a shopper of many years. "It was so convenient coming here."

But it was more than being close to her Pennsylvania Avenue home - it was a lot of factors, Gardiner said.

"I like the nice people here," she said. "And they have the best meats."

Karen Hendrickson grew up on nearby Marsh Pike so she remembers coming to the store as a child.

"It was close by, and had friendly service and good meat," Hendrickson said.

She said she appreciated that everything in the store was high-quality.

Eckstine's father Ivan Martin hasn't cooked his fried chicken or worked in the 14716 Pennsylvania Ave. store in years. He and his wife Emma both have had open heart surgery within the last five years and are closing the store so they can retire, Eckstine said.

The couple had food stands at the City Market on Church Street in Hagerstown for 10 years before starting their first store in 1968 at the suggestion of their two oldest daughters.

In 1971 they razed the small store they had been renting and built their own store, which they doubled in size in 1977.

Passersby can't miss the market because of the big black bull that stands out front.

Rocky Ridge specializes in Black Angus and "Tenderlean" beef, which is processed in-house, Eckstine said.

The store has been sold, but Eckstine wouldn't say to whom or what the buyer planned to do with the building.

Friday, Ivan Martin came in around noontime and walked through the store, possibly for the last time.

"The people who bought it wish now they'd bought everything and kept it open for a while," he said.

Rocky Ridge employs about 30 people, including Eckstine's husband, Mark, and their son, Marwin, 16. At one time the store had 75 employees, Eckstine said.

"I'm really going to miss this place," said Betty Grove as she left the store for the last time, an Easter flower in her cart.

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