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Henicle's Markets preserve small-town feel

March 10, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

by Joe Crocetta / staff photographer

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Henicle's MarketHenicle's Markets preserve small-town feel

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Mary Eyler has been shopping at Henicle's Market on North Church Street Extended ever since she started to drive.

"You can get anything you want here, just like the big markets, or they'll get it for you," said Eyler, 66, of Mentzer Gap Road.

Eyler and the people who work in the store know each other by their first names.

That's the kind of grocery store Henicle's is.

One longtime customer, a woman who came in to shop every Thursday for years, didn't show up one Thursday so employees became concerned. They called her at home and found out she was sick in bed. A week later they learned that she died.

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That's the kind of grocery store Henicle's is - a throwback to a simpler time when customers came first, when meat was freshly cut and wrapped in plain white waxed paper.

Many customers take cookies and small gifts to Henicle's employees at during the Christmas season.

Henicle's Markets is a three-store chain, including a store on 42 W. Second St. in Waynesboro and the biggest one at 7798 Lincoln Way East in Fayetteville, Pa.

The store on North Church Street was the first one built by Alvin Henicle, now retired and spending most of his time in Arizona.

Guy Henicle, Alvin's father, sold apples and peaches from his orchards at a small fruit stand that stood just south of the present-day store's parking lot.

Alvin Henicle started what would become the grocery store chain in 1948 by selling meat, from his home-raised chickens, to turkeys, steer and hogs, from the fruit stand.

Guy Henicle had three sons, including Glenn, who was killed while serving in the Marine Corps in the Pacific in World War II, Alvin and Floyd, who was nicknamed Gus.

Gus died some years ago. His widow, Tillie Henicle, 67, has been a longtime employee of the Church Street store.

Andy Sharrah, 63, started working there in 1949.

"It all began with the fruit stand, then Alvin added a few groceries, then meat, then it all just started blooming," Sharrah said.

Today, the stores are owned by Glenn Henicle, 48, Alvin's son.

"I remember carrying Glenn around when he was in diapers," Sharrah said.

Sharrah used to drive a truck to New York State just to buy potatoes. Every Christmas, the store sent a truck to Florida for fresh citrus, he said.

The philosophy of selling the fresh meat and produce began in those early days. What Alvin Henicle didn't grow or raise himself he bought from suppliers who met his standards for freshness, said Kerry Bumbaugh, who manages the Church Street store and oversees the company's wholesale business.

The tradition continues. Two nights a week, Andy Zager, who has worked for Henicle's for about 40 years, drives a truck to Jessup, Md., to buy produce.

About 25 percent of Henicle's business is wholesale to about 50 area restaurants.

"They want everything fresh," Bumbaugh said. "It's in and out the same day."

"We cut meat to the customer's needs. People come from Hagerstown and from West Virginia to buy meat for their freezers," Bumbaugh said.

Glenn Henicle always knew he would work in the family business. He took it over in 1977.

About 60 people, including 20 full-time employees, work in the three stores.

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