Eddie’s Market of Charles Village, a longtime Baltimore staple that drew a cast of regular customers, is closing its doors for good on Dec. 30.
Owner Jerry Gordon, whose family has been running Eddie’s markets for decades, said he has been planning the closure for months. He has plans for retirement that include visiting his out-of-state children more and enjoying “other aspects of life.”
“It’s a bittersweet moment for me,” said Gordon, who turns 73 in January. “I started working at Eddie’s when I was 15 as a student at Baltimore City College. I have worked very hard for a long, long time.”
Gordon said none of his family members have interest in following in his footsteps.
Business has fluctuated during the coronavirus pandemic, with more activity in the initial months and less in the fall as Johns Hopkins University campuses remained closed to students. But Gordon said he made the decision to close independent of the public health crisis.
“This is a planned retirement; we’re not a business that’s struggling,” he said.
He said he has sold the property to MCB Real Estate, a local firm with a portfolio of shopping centers and some residential buildings. P. David Bramble, MCB’s managing partner, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday. Gordon said all inquiries about the building’s future should be directed to MCB.
“I trust they will deal with this property in a way that reflects their long-term commitment to this neighborhood,” Gordon said.
City Councilwoman Odette Ramos, who represents the Charles Village area, said she has spoken to Bramble, who is not sure what he will do with the space. She said she would like to see another local grocery store, a worker-owned cooperative or minority-run business take its place.
“It’s one of these places where they welcomed everybody, and we need more places like that,” Ramos said. “Having a local place is going to be important to me. … We’ll go through the community process to get something in that space that stays true to our city.”
She called the shop an “institution” where employees know everyone’s name and order, and made it a point to hire local students, including Ramos’ husband when he was a student at Loyola University Maryland. Gordon and his wife, Darlene, are so committed to their neighbors, Ramos said, that they once spent the night sleeping in the market’s office during a major snowstorm so they could open the next morning.
Eddie’s markets have strong bases of neighborhood patrons and deep ties to the Baltimore area. As many as 26 Eddie’s markets once operated in the area, though that number has since been reduced as larger grocery chains with more products overtook the family-run stores. Eddie’s of Roland Park, which operates independently of its Charles Village counterpart, is not closing, spokesman Jared Earley said, and has planned upgrades to the location.
“We are actively recruiting talent, and would welcome the employees of Eddie’s Market to explore our open positions and apply,” Earley said.
The Eddie’s markets have generally operated autonomously, though they have collaborated on advertising and buying in the past. The chain was founded by Edward A. Levy, Gordon’s great uncle, in Sparrows Point in 1927. He sold the markets to Indegro Inc. in 1956 and stayed on as an adviser. Gordon’s father, Edwin B. Gordon, bought the Charles Village store in 1962.
In 1980, Jerry Gordon took over as manager, and would change the name from Charles Village Eddie’s Supermarket to today’s Eddie’s Market of Charles Village. He renovated the store in 2006.
Gordon describes himself as an avid Johns Hopkins lacrosse fan who has dedicated menu items to the Blue Jays (including the “Fabulous smokin’ Jays,” the smoked turkey sandwich with mozzarella cheese). He has served the staffs at Union Memorial Hospital, the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Johns Hopkins University.
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Gordon’s loyal supporters came to his defense in recent years when Johns Hopkins University and its developers discussed opening another grocery store near the Charles Village market. The neighborhood is home to takeout operations as well as a cafe and some chain eateries.
Maureen Daly, president of the Abell Improvement Association, which encompasses the district immediately adjacent to Eddie’s, said the Gordon family will be missed — as will the store’s cold cut platters, breakfast sandwiches and bread selection.
“I always felt they were a great place to shop because you could get everything you needed,” Daly said. “It was so great for our neighborhood, to have a full-service grocery store that was walkable. It’s much more than a corner store.”
The store employs 24 workers.
Gordon broke the news to staff late Tuesday and early Wednesday. He said he is grateful to the hundreds of employees who have worked at the Charles Village store throughout the years.
The grocery stocks everyday pantry essentials as well as all the classic neighborhood market items: made-to-order sandwiches, local food brands, fresh coffee and olive oil, cheeses and jams.
Baltimore Sun librarian Paul McCardell contributed to this article.