Family grocer ends an era Finale: Declining profits force Roop's Grocery in New Windsor, in business for four generations, to close its doors forever.

January 04, 1998|By Amy Davis | Amy Davis,SUN STAFF

For 101 years, four generations of the Roop family kept Roop's Grocery open six days a week. That tradition ended on the last day of 1997, when the New Windsor institution closed its doors for good.

Since 1940, the grocery was housed in a handsome brick building on the corner of High and Church streets. Its faded signs are as weathered as the 19th-century gravestones in the Presbyterian cemetery across the street.

The store joins numerous businesses as monuments of New Windsor's past. Once, it was a flourishing farming community; now it is a bedroom community.

Bob Eaves, who shopped at Roop's since moving to New Windsor in 1970, came with his camera to record the final day. "It's really a shame," Eaves remarked. "We lost the pharmacy, we lost the hardware store, and now this."

Roop's business, already diminished, further declined when these two mainstays closed, and more and more residents got used to shopping further from home.

Business was brisker Wednesday, but most of the faithful came to say goodbye to the Roops rather than take advantage of the half-price sale.

The decision to close was a painful one for Neal Roop, 40, who began working at the store with his father, H. Cassell Roop, when he was 8 years old. Neal Roop's last day behind the counter was similar to countless others, except for the challenge not to cry as friends who respected his unfailingly polite manner came to pay their last respects.

While customers reminisced with Roop, his wife, Betty, fought back her own tears with playful banter. Sons Jason, 17, and Jeremy, 11, were somber. It was a tremendous feat, a friend reminded the family, to keep the store going for so long. Most family businesses don't even survive the second generation.

On his final day in business, Roop carried a sack of groceries to a customer's car as he has done for decades. Snow as big as cornflakes enveloped Roop as he carefully placed the brown bag in the trunk and returned to his spot behind the counter for the last time.

Pub Date: 1/04/98

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