Locust Point Market has been a local institution for decades

January 11, 2011|BY TIFFANY ARNOLD |
  • Locust Point Market is in a triangle-shaped building, its entrance is like the point of an arrow and the store's walls extend out and away along Locust and Potomac streets.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

Editor's note: This is the third in a monthly series about neighborhood grocery stores.

Aside from being the provider of penny candy, produce, steamers and pot pie, Locust Point Market has helped give a neighborhood its identity, according to the residents who've shopped there for decades.

"I can't imagine Locust Point without it," said Lynda Evans, president of Neighborhoods 1st, Locust Point, part of a network of community groups throughout Hagerstown.

Locust Point Market is a family-owned corner store in a residential neighborhood colloquially referred to as Locust Point. The market is walking distance from Bester Elementary School in Hagerstown's south end.

The building is unusually shaped, as though its entrance were at the point of an arrow and the store's walls were the lines that extend out and away along Locust and Potomac streets.

Regulars often go to Locust point for the basics — eggs, milk, bread and butter — and its wide range of meats, everything from pickled pig's feet and blocks of Spam to freshly ground hamburger meat and sausage. For those who don't have time to cook, Locust Point sells hot food. The store also sells cleaning supplies, stationery, toiletries and pet food.

But if you ask a neighbor, they'll say Locust Point Market is the corner store that offers its residents more than milk and eggs. It's an institution, a social hub or the best place in town to get a steamer, depending on whom you ask.

Evans said the store's current owners, Kelly and Kristin Marconi, have allowed the neighborhood group to use its empty lot for events and have donated gift certificates for its annual block party.

Neighborhoods 1st groups work with the City of Hagers-town to represent and express a community's needs — like getting trash cans to prevent litter or installing landscaping and signs to welcome visitors to Locust Point, said Lois DeLisi, a former president of Neighborhoods 1st, Locust Point.

DeLisi, 66, remembered growing up across the street from Locust Point Market in the 1950s and '60s. Her dad, the late Dale Schell, settled the family's grocery credit when he cashed his checks from Fairchild Aircraft. So when DeLisi moved back to the neighborhood in 2004, visiting the market was one of her first stops.

"It has not changed one bit," DeLisi said.

Inside Locust Point Market, there are two aisles, separated by a single row of shelves. You can hear staff fielding orders for steamers and potpie at the deli in the back of the store, where during a recent lunch rush, a line to the cash register at the front of the store had begun to form. Cashier and longtime employee Lyn Rowland said this is the norm between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

That's around the time Craig Harshman had just finished paying for two steamers. "They're the best in town," said Harshman, a Smithsburg resident who works in Hagerstown.

 Frank Marconi started offering homemade soup and steamers when he bought the business in 1982. He said the deli accounts for 60 percent of Locust Point's business.

 "I figured that's what people wanted," Frank Marconi said.

Frank Marconi, 71, of Hagerstown, purchased the shop with hopes of running his own business. He drew from his experience as a produce manager with the now defunct General Union grocery store chain.

He recently passed down ownership to his son, Kelly Marconi, 51. Kelly and his wife, Kristin, live in Greencastle, Pa., and run the store together. Like his dad, Kelly arrives at the store bright and early, at 5 a.m., ahead of the 6 o'clock breakfast rush. He cuts and grinds fresh meat for the day's steamers and prepares the day's soup from recipes passed down from his father.

"He was my mentor," Kelly Marconi said of his dad.

The Marconis are the most recent batch of owners to run Locust Point Market. Frank's wife, Verona "Noni" Marconi, said the business was owned by the late Leona J. Byers and, prior to Byers, by the late Scott Neibert.

Today, much of the traffic comes from people on foot, from hungry business people on lunch breaks and from folks like Anna and Marshall Barnhart, who've lived in the Locust Point neighborhood for decades.

"Well, for dinner tonight, we're having sauerkraut, hotdogs and mashed potatoes," said Marshall Barnhart, 79. "We're out of hotdog buns."

Locust Point Market

360 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown

Hours | 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily

Contact | 301-733-2427

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