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Baltimore needs more corner stores like Eddie’s Market | READER COMMENTARY

After decades of marketing food, wares and delicacies to generations of residents and visitors, Eddie’s of Charles Village, a Baltimore institution, shut its doors for good at the end of the year (”Eddie’s Market of Charles Village closing Dec. 30 after decades as a neighborhood staple,” Dec. 16).

As a regular, you learn about a store’s characters and quirks. My sister-in-law, a crab cake and crab imperial specialist, contends that the fresh crab cakes at Eddie’s were better than any restaurant. When told the compliment, the store’s seafood master shrugged a thanks and said catching and eating fish and crabs was all he did when growing up by the Chesapeake Bay.

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The cheese guy there exuded expertise and enthusiasm when showing customers the latest discovery such as a Wisconsin cheddar or an imported blueberry Wensleydale. And he was always glad to order a recommendation.

Let us not forget the deli workers and cashiers. Though their jobs demand lots of repetition, these individuals often lightened the atmosphere with patience and a jest or two. When cellphones became ubiquitous, a couple of cashiers retold with a smirk how some customers would stare at their phones while bumping into the front glass door.

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It is tempting to ask: So what? Supermarkets now deliver door-to-door; we can all stay indoors waiting for a truck to arrive. This misses the point.

Corner grocery stores like Eddie’s are not just about purchasing things. They invite nearby residents to take a walk, escape their confines and encounter little surprises or familiar faces. Such customers refuse to rely on some anonymous individual to pick their fruits and vegetables. They themselves have to use their sense of touch or smell to determine which vegetables or fruits are raw, ripe or ready to be eaten immediately.

Many corner grocers save a small corner for customers to sit and enjoy their snack or cup of coffee. They might buy a daily newspaper and catch up on the latest news and controversies or banter with other regulars.

If Baltimore’s officials were serious about restoring Baltimore, they would shift their focus from tax breaks for corporations and stadiums and instead focus on establishing a corner store in every neighborhood.

Alexander E. Hooke, Baltimore

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