Smithsburg Market serves community for more than 30 years

June 21, 2011|By MARIE GILBERT |
  • Bonnie Renard says that the store sells about 3,000 pieces of fried chicken per week.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

SMITHSBURG — Editor's note: This is the seventh in a series about neighborhood grocery stores.

There was a time when Smithsburg Market was just another mom and pop grocery store — nothing special because there were so many more just like it.

Now, those stores mostly exist in memories.

That's what makes this small business on South Main Street special. It has with- stood the test of time.

It was about 30 years ago when the store opened its doors to customers.

Since then, it has found a new location on the opposite side of the street It also has had several owners and more competition for the dollar.

But through all the transitions, Smithsburg Market has continued to serve the community and adjust to change.

Change was what John and Bonnie Renard were looking for six years ago, when they and the past proprietor were brought together by a mutual accountant.

"We were looking for a restaurant," Bonnie Renard said. "And this was the closest to a restaurant we could find in this area. The owner was looking to sell, we were looking to buy, so it worked out."

Renard said most of the store's customers are local and have been shopping at the market for years.

"Many of the customers don't drive or don't want to drive," she said. "We have a lot of people who walk to the store every day."

Renard said the market also is attractive to senior citizens "who are more comfortable with this size of store. Some of today's supermarkets are so big, older people have trouble walking from one end to the other."

From the moment the couple took over the store, Renard said their goal was to try to provide reasonably priced food items that met the needs of their customers.

"We take requests but we don't sing," she joked. "We're so small, we can't carry everything. There's just not enough room. But we do our best to stock our store with what people want."

Shelves are lined with typical grocery items — cans of soups and vegetables and boxes of cereals and cake mix.

Fresh produce, dairy products and meats also are available.

But the bulk of their business, Renard said, comes from their deli and prepared meals.

"Just in the six years we've been here, times have changed," she said. "Consumers' needs are different. They shop by the meal, not by the week  In many families, both spouses work and having the time to cook has gone by the wayside."

Customers can order subs and sandwiches or take advantage of a small salad bar.

"But what we're really known for is our fried chicken," Renard said. "On average, we sell 3,000 pieces of chicken a week. In this little store, I think it's phenomenal."

Renard said chicken already was being sold when she and her husband took over the store.

"We tweaked the recipe a bit, fine-tuned it to get where it is today," she said.

Renard said they have a lot of local workers who frequent the market for lunch and dinner and recently, she and her husband added several booths for in-store dining.

"I like to think people come in for a homecooked meal versus a burger and a bag of fries," she said. "I think they also appreciate the fact that everything is fresh and made by hand."

Renard said they sell 30 pounds of homemade macaroni and cheese every day, make their own dough for their slippery pot pie and "all our gravies are homemade. The only canned gravy is on the shelf."

That's what sets their store apart from major chain stores, she said.

"Even some restaurants use commercial-based products. We make old-fashioned meals, the old-fashioned way," she noted.

Renard said the market has a bakery and has expanded into offering custom-decorated cakes for any and all occasions.

Catering also is available.

At the customers' requests, the market soon will be offering hand-dipped ice cream from South Mountain Creamery.

"I'm bound and determined to make a banana split the way it should be made," she said.

While the market doesn't offer general delivery, Renard said "we try to help those seniors in town who are not able to drive, by taking lunches to them two times a week. They'll place an order and we'll run it over to them. We try to be flexible."

"The biggest thing is we try to be neighborly," she said. "If someone needs something, we make sure they get it. We also offer a voucher program with the local food bank, where people can get perishables. It's something we inherited from the previous owner and we're very happy to continue it."

Renard said the store has about 10 employees outside of family.

"If you're related to me, you're recruited to work here," she laughed. "Almost everyone in my family has worked here at one time or another, including our daughter who went through a culinary program."

Giving a tour of the market, Renard proudly points out another difference between their store and the big chains — an assortment of family photos is taped to a display case in the deli section.

"I doubt you'd see that in a major supermarket," she said.

Smithsburg Market

Address: 48 S. Main St., Smithsburg

Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday

Phone: 301-824-2171

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