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Pinesburg grocery store closes doors

April 22, 1999

Pinesburg Grocery closesBy KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




PINESBURG - The red and white sign outside the former Pinesburg Grocery Store proclaims to all that it is "The happy face place," and for more than 20 years it lived up to its billing.

The unassuming one-story building on Md. 68 was a meeting place for local retirees to share coffee and conversation.

The business also was a place for area tannery and quarry workers to stop for breakfast and lunch.

For local children, the Pinesburg Grocery was a dream come true, with boxes and boxes of Swedish fish, licorice, gummy bears and other penny candy.

After running the store for 14 years, owners William and Dorothy Kaetzel of Williamsport closed it down in December 1998.

The .76-acre lot, building and its contents will be auctioned off on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. by A. Jack Downin.

William Kaetzel said the long hours required and increasing competition forced the couple to close the business.

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"It was getting too much and we couldn't run it the way we'd like to," he said.

The couple purchased the store in 1985, after William Kaetzel was laid off from his job at Mack Trucks Inc. in Hagerstown.

"I liked the idea of running a small, homey store," he said.

With his wife doing the books and the children helping out on the weekends, William Kaetzel ran a store where customers could count on a cup of hot coffee and friendly service.

He opened up each day at 5:30 a.m. and prepared coffee and egg sandwiches for patrons. For lunch he made submarines, hamburgers and soups.

William is a NASCAR fan, and said patrons enjoyed his specials, which featured the names of the winning racers.

The evening brought children seeking candy, soda and ice cream.

He closed the store around 7 p.m.

"It wasn't really work. I liked it so much," he said.

The store featured two center aisles filled with such items as cereal, batteries and canned goods.

Shelves on the rear walls offered a variety of merchandise from hairnets to Superglue.

About 50 customers from Pinesburg, Hancock and Clear Spring would stop at the store each day, said Dorothy Kaetzel.

Pinesburg resident Fred Bingaman stopped by every day for his morning coffee.

"They had good prices and I liked the company," he said.

Bingaman said he is going to miss the store.

Regular customer George Kreps would often walk about a quarter of a mile from his home to the store for the newspaper and coffee.

"I enjoyed the friendship. It was a friendly place to stop," he said.

Other homey touches at the Pinesburg Grocery included a "wall of fame," where the Kaetzel's posted pictures and newspaper clippings about family, friends and patrons.

The most popular feature of the store was the small rectangular table with two benches and two well-worn chairs for the regulars, William Kaetzel said.

"They would gather and talk about what was going on in the world," he said.

Yarns were spun about the "one that got away" and trophy deer harvested, he said.

"It was a lot of fun. I got to meet a lot of nice, down-to-earth people," he said.

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