Roop's Grocery to close after 101 years in town New Windsor store has been in same family for four generations

October 01, 1997|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

A community grocery store that has been passed down through four generations of one New Windsor family will close its doors Dec. 31.

"Sales are down, that's the main thing. I just can't keep on not making any money," said Neal C. Roop, owner of Roop's Grocery, at 142 Church St. He said he started thinking about closing when sales slacked off during the summer, but made the final decision last weekend, weighing the needs of loyal customers and the possible impact on the community against the decline in income.

New Windsor Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr. said he hates to see a store which has been "a landmark in New Windsor" close down. "It's a sad day to see a family business that has been in business as long as they have close their doors. But I guess it's harsh reality," he said.

New Windsor's dilemma is common in small towns, Gullo said. People find it convenient to have community stores, but when they need an electric fan, for instance, they go to a chain hardware store in Westminster.

The town drugstore closed in 1995 when the owners opted not to invest in new space after a bank expansion required them to move. The town hardware store closed in 1996.

It was different in 1896, when John H. Roop left his family farm near Sams Creek Road to open a grocery store in New Windsor. Then, the town was a busy resort, drawing Baltimoreans who came to escape the summer heat in the city and to drink the water from the town's sulfur springs.

Owning Roop's Grocery was Neal Roop's boyhood dream. He bought out his father, H. Cassell Roop, in 1990. He and his wife, Betty, started a delivery service several years ago, becoming the only grocery store in the Westminster-New Windsor area to offer deliveries.

Roop said he doesn't blame customers for buying their weekly groceries at supermarkets.

"Times have just changed, and people's philosophies have changed," he said.

Roop has spent 59 hours a week, six days a week, behind the counter since he bought the store from his father. He has been so dedicated to it that he, his wife and two sons have never had a vacation together.

He said he hasn't started a search for another job, but will probably go into sales.

Pub Date: 10/01/97

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