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Sunnyway Foods turns 50

March 25, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Sunnyway Foods, a two-store grocery business with 175 employees, began 50 years ago with Aldine and Margaret Martin selling meat at area farmers markets.

Sunnyway Foods is still in the family. In 2000, the Martins' sons, Michael and Dean, took over management of both stores. The Greencastle store is at 212 N. Antrim Way (U.S. 11) and the Chambersburg store opened in 1973 at 49 Warm Springs Road.

Dean Martin, 41, is company president and his brother, Michael, 43, is secretary/treasurer.

The boys started to work in the store when they turned 13. When they were younger, they took their afternoon naps in the restaurant on the second floor of the Greencastle store.

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Aldine and Margaret Martin, believing that Greencastle needed a modern, clean grocery store, built their first store in 1955 at 200 N. Antrim Way.

Neither had experience in the grocery business other than what they had learned in their first business venture - buying meat from wholesalers and selling at farmers markets, first in Hummelstown, Pa., and York, Pa., and later in Hagerstown.

"They went to the bank and borrowed the money," Dean Martin said of his parents. "They had no business plan. You can't do that nowadays."

The Martins built a larger store at 212 N. Antrim Way in 1965. The old store building, which the family still owns, is occupied by a Rite Aid Pharmacy.

The new store burned to the ground in 1969. It reopened in an even larger building on the site nine months later with all of the original employees returning to their jobs.

The two Sunnyway Foods stores are part of a 50-store advertising chain that allows the Martins to take advantage of bulk buying, yet retain their independent store philosophy, Dean Martin said.

Margaret Martin, 73, said she never doubted the venture would succeed.

"I always thought we'd be here 50 years," she said. "We wouldn't have started the business if we didn't think that."

She runs the deli department in the Greencastle store. Asked if she considers retiring, "not until I can't walk through the front door anymore," she said.

Aldine Martin, 75, was not available for the interview. He owns two other local businesses - Keystone Ford and Keystone RV Center.

Margaret Martin said she met her future husband in church. They were married in 1951.

Michael's son, Derek, is the deli manager in the Chambersburg store. His daughter, Erica, works in the store when she's not in college.

"It's a family business," Dean Martin said. He said he's not sure if his own children, Lyza and Tanner, will follow in the family tradition.

"They're just 5 and 2. I don't know yet," he said.

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