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Marketing Charm City's Neighborhoods

Jerry Gordon, owner, Eddie�s Market, Charles Village - Arianne Teeple
Jerry Gordon, owner, Eddie�s Market, Charles Village - Arianne Teeple
In Baltimore, residents often use local markets as landmarks. "The florist? It's by Eddie's." From regional institutions to up-and-comers, independent grocers have a reputation of adding extra charm to Charm City.

Eddie's of Roland Park

"For decades, Eddie's has been a convenient store to pick up great food for dinner that night," Roland Park resident, Dave Seiler, says.

Seiler perfectly describes Eddie's of Roland Park, a grocer with a quality selection of foodstuffs, conveniently located by the local Enoch Pratt Library branch and neighboring schools. In a market bustling with parents pushing strollers, teens in school uniforms, and decade-long residents, Eddie's employees pride themselves in offering the highest level of customer service.

"Where else can you go to have a real person open the door for you?" Seiler asks.

Victor Cohen opened Eddie's of Roland Park in 1953. He was a firm believer in knowing the customer and personalizing each shopping experience. Eddie's offers personal shoppers and store-to-door delivery, including alcohol for their 21-and-over customers. Some long-time patrons even hold store accounts, charging purchases to a tab.

Over time, Cohen's daughter, Nancy, noticed that the market was lacking a large demographic: younger patrons. Eddie's "Gourmet to Go" counter, brimming with prepared foods, became a hit with busy professionals and families in need of quick dinners.

"As a working mom, I prep dinner for my two sons before I go to work in the morning. Eddie's prepared food helps with that daunting task," says Mary Bubala, Roland Park resident and WJZ anchor.

Eddie's dedication to the community doesn't end in the store. The Cohen family holds a Halloween party for neighborhood kids, hosts outdoor events to showcase fine wines and local produce, and supports local growth efforts like the recent library renovation and expansion.

Eddie's Market, Charles Village

This is where it gets a little confusing. Eddie's Market, Charles Village is not a division of Eddie's of Roland Park.

In the 1940s, Eddie Levy opened Eddie's Supermarket. He franchised the business and, at one point, 26 Eddie's Supermarkets dotted the Baltimore City metro. Victor Cohen joined the collaboration and named his store after Levy. By the 1950s, development of super chains like Giant and Acme left only a few Eddie's in its wake, of which St. Paul Supermarkets snatched up three. Of the trio, Eddie's Market, Charles Village remains.

Jerry Gordon is the son of Eddie Gordon, one of the original principals of the St. Paul Street store. Jerry took over Eddie's Market, Charles Village, in 1980; 30 years later, he's still offering Charles Village the qualities of a neighborhood grocer.
Gordon admits that there is confusion; many people don't realize that the Eddie's have been separately owned and operated for decades.

"I know the names of all of their sandwiches," Gordon says. "Sometimes people send us payments meant for them; we simply forward them to the Roland Park store."

So how has the Charles Village store succeeded with two Giants, a Superfresh, and a Safeway within a mile radius?

"Eddie's is in the safety pocket; Charles Village residents and Johns Hopkins students feel safe walking here," Gordon says.

That safety and convenience doesn't go unnoticed. A Charles Village resident for 11 years, Danamarie Hosler lives with her husband and five-month-old son a mere block from Eddie's Market.

"My husband goes [to Eddie's Market] at least once a week. There's always something we suddenly need, and it's so convenient. Plus, the Smokin' Jay sandwich is awesome!" Hosler says. The Hoslers know the names of most of the employees and applaud them for being open even during the past winters' blizzards.

"Yes, my wife and I sleep in the office during snow storms," Gordon admits.

And the Gordons believe that supporting the community goes beyond being open when others aren't; Gordon is a member of the Charles Village Civic Association and works closely with Hopkins' community liaison. Eddie's Market co-sponsors a fall street fair called "Convergence" to introduce Hopkins students to the neighborhood.

Eddie's Market's employees -- many of whom have been with the store for decades -- champion that level of customer service and dedication.

"The fastest person in line is the third person. If three people are in line, we open a new register," Gordon says.

Milk & Honey, Baltimore

Milk & Honey's Baltimore store opened in November 2010 in Mt. Vernon after the success of its sister store in Philadelphia. Catering to the business crowd and the neighborhood's residents, Milk & Honey has quickly become a go-to market in the community.

A food market, deli, and cafe, Milk & Honey encourages and educates patrons on the various foodstuffs that line shelves. Much of Milk & Honey's bountiful produce and meats like Gunpowder Bison are locally grown and produced, and the market just named itself a pick-up site for Simmer Rock Farms' CSA.

"By carrying products by and promoting local bakers, chefs, etc., Milk & Honey is putting money back into the community," says Shelby Orndoff, who lives across the street from the market. "Plus, the barista knows orders. It's nice to be remembered."

As Milk & Honey establishes itself in Mt. Vernon, co-owner Dana Valery plans to continue the market's focus on local, sustainable, and artisanal goods while expanding the market.

"Offerings will change based on what is available that season and what our customers need," notes Valery.

"Milk & Honey has that neighborhood market feel that has been lost due to chain grocery stores," adds Mt. Vernon resident Kristi Metzger. "This market reflects the tastes of the neighborhood. You forget that you're within a much larger city."

And don't miss Santoni's Super Market on Lombard, Eddie's of Mt. Vernon, and the newly opened Green Onion Market in Hamilton - additional neighborhood markets that are unifying communities and offering convenient, customer-focused service.

Renee Libby Beck is a freelance writer and public relations coordinator for Medifast, Inc. She serves as the Baltimore Food Examiner for Examiner.com and writes for other local blogs and publications. Riverside is her Baltimore neighborhood, and she would love to see a small grocer in the community.

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Photos by Arianne Teeple:

- Jerry Gordon, owner, Eddie's Market in Charles Village
- Crab cakes at Eddie's Market in Charles Village
- Zeke's coffee at Eddie's Market in Charles Village
- Eddie's Market in Charles Village
- Dana Valery, co-owner, Milk & Honey Market in Mount Vernon
- A latte at Milk & Honey Market in Mount Vernon
- Milk & Honey Market in Mount Vernon
- Soup at Milk & Honey Market in Mount Vernon
- Local preserves and marmalade at Milk & Honey Market in Mount Vernon

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