After decades of serving the neighborhood, Eddie’s Market of Charles Village closed its doors on Dec. 30, 2020. The location was sold to MCB Real Estate, who has yet to announce its plans for the lot going forward.
The grocery, known for its deli and local brands, was a small store on St. Paul Street. Eddie’s had a close relationship with both the Hopkins community and Charles Village residents.
Jerry Gordon, 73, has owned the store since 1980 and has worked at Eddie’s franchises since he was 15 years old. In an interview with The News-Letter, he explained that he chose to retire in order to spend more time with his family.
“I’ve gotten mixed reactions from customers,” he said. “Some sad, some happy for me. ‘We’ll miss you,’ obviously. It’s been bittersweet, for me and for them.”
Many in the Hopkins community were shocked and saddened by the news. Senior Sam Mollin, executive president of the Student Government Association, reminisced on how the store appealed to the student body.
“They had Hopkins-related menu items, they had Hopkins-related decorations, they had a student discount,” he said. “It was really sad to see Eddie’s go.”
Eddie’s was also known to the Baltimore community at large. Once part of a chain of Eddie’s Supermarkets, the corner stores were split into separate franchises in the 1970s. Only the Eddie’s of Roland Park location remains today.
Sandy Sparks, former president of the Charles Village Civic Association, has lived in the neighborhood since 1970. For Sparks, Eddie’s offered more than just groceries — it also offered a friendly, homey atmosphere.
“It was really the anchor — the hub — of this whole area,” she said. “It makes all the difference for the vibrancy of St. Paul Street.”
A staple of the neighborhood
The original Eddie’s Market was opened in Dundalk by Gordon’s great-uncle, Edward Levy. When it became successful, Levy franchised the business, peaking at 26 Eddie’s locations throughout Baltimore. The Charles Village property, originally another grocery, was purchased in 1962 by Gordon’s father and two partners.
“After I graduated from college, on Jan. 1, 1973, my father called me and said, ‘Do you have a job?’” Gordon said. “I said ‘I don’t.’ He said, ‘You be there Monday morning.’”
Gordon became a dedicated member of Charles Village. He noted that throughout demographic shifts and other changes over the decades in the neighborhood, the one constant was the Hopkins student body.
“We started the Hopkins student discount, the Fabulous Smokin’ Jays,” he said. “I have a very close, warm relationship with the Hopkins athletics department, mostly with the lacrosse program.”
Graduate student Mackenzie Heldberg, an attackman on the women’s lacrosse team, explained that both the men’s and women’s teams knew Gordon personally. She recalled a wall of signatures featured in the store, which displayed the names of Hopkins lacrosse players throughout the years.
“When we’d be wearing our Hopkins lacrosse apparel, he was always the first one to come up to us, making sure that we signed the wall,” she said. “He’s such a generous man, always down to talk about lacrosse and his love for us and our sport.”
Junior Brody Silva, who worked at Eddie’s as a cashier during the fall semester, stated that the store provided a space for students to see each other amid COVID-19 restrictions.
“It was nice to be able to see people in a pandemic,” he said. “They were very conscientious about COVID safety. I really enjoyed working there because I’d see students, random friends I haven’t seen in a long time.”
Sparks stated that Gordon was supportive of community events, always buying ads in the Charles Villager magazine. He also stocked local brands, constantly tweaking products to appeal to the wide variety of customers.
Baltimore City Councilmember Odette Ramos also spoke to Gordon’s commitment to the community. She recounted the “Snowmaggedon” of February 2010, when a freak blizzard led to 3 feet of snow in Baltimore.
“Jerry and Darlene slept in the office above the store in order to be open the next day,” Ramos said. “They were the only ones open the next day — Baltimore isn’t prepared for snow. Jerry knew that people needed him.”
Plans for the future
The strength of the neighborhood-market relationship kept Eddie’s as the only grocery store in Charles Village. In 2013, Hopkins considered bringing a new grocery store to the previously vacant lot on 33rd and St. Paul Street, what is now the Nine East 33rd building. Pushback from the community caused the University to relent. The building instead has a CVS store today.
However, with none of Gordon’s family wanting to take over the business and no other potential prospects, the community is now left without a grocery store.
Mollin believes that the lack of a supermarket directly in the Hopkins neighborhood will make buying food more difficult for the student body.
“I think it’s important because students who live in the area, whether it’s in Nine East or other apartment buildings, have a location to get groceries that is walkable, so they don’t have to get in a car or a Blue Jay Shuttle,” he said.
Other nearby grocery locations include Giant Food, which has stores in both Hamden and Waverly; Safeway on 24th St. and the weekend Waverly Farmers Market. The University’s Charles Street Market, which is open for the spring semester, also provides fresh produce.
Gordon sold the property to MCB Real Estate, a Charles Village-based firm. Managing Partner P. David Bramble, a regular Eddie’s customer, noted that community members have reached out with questions and recommendations regarding next steps. MCB plans to take them into consideration.
“We’re members of the Baltimore community, members of the Charles Village community,” he said. “It means a lot to us that the next iteration of whatever this is, is something we’ll be proud of.”
Bramble urged those interested in the future of the property to email the firm. In the next few weeks, MCB will begin publicly discussing plans.
While Eddie’s is now gone, Gordon plans to stay connected to Charles Village and to continue watching lacrosse games. Despite being a University of Maryland alum, he promises to always root for Hopkins.
“I’d like to say how grateful I am for the support we’ve gotten from Hopkins, the administration, the athletics department, over the years,” Gordon said.
Gordon also described the relationships that he built with Hopkins affiliates over the years. He recalled the connections he made, from a 2005 graduate who stopped by the store on her 10-year reunion to a personal relationship with former lacrosse coach David Pietramala. Gordon’s wife Darlene always knew when students had tests and papers.
“There’s always someone special that you make a connection with,” he said.
Ramos, herself a Charles Village resident, presented both Gordons with Mayoral and City Council Recognition Certificates on Dec. 30, the store’s last day open. She is optimistic about the future of the location.
“I don’t anticipate that that space is going to be vacant for long, with students coming back and the neighborhood always very supportive of our businesses,” she said.