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On the Hunt for Delawares Favorite Local Places Featuring Lloyds in Lewes!

Whether you live up around Wilmington, in central Delaware or in one of the many beautiful communities hugging the ocean or bays, you probably do the bulk of your grocery shopping at big supermarkets. 

The good news is that you can usually get just about anything youd like. The not-so-good news is that the experience tends to be impersonal as you scan your own items at check-out without knowing the employees too well even if theyre friendly and helpful.

Yet three blocks from our Lewes home and office and an easy bike ride from several other Lewes neighborhoods is Lloyds Market, a remarkable throwback to earlier eras. Locals love it for two reasons. Despite its tiny 2,000 square feet of space you actually can find just about anything you want. Youll also get friendly service from one of the helpful folks who are always working behind the register, at the deli and meat counter, or stocking the shelves. 

Located on Savannah Road about a mile up from Lewes Beach, the market was founded in 1971 by Lloyd and Dottie Purcell. Since then its kept its charm, with large front windows advertising specials, chickens turning on a rotisserie next to the fishermans cooler where fresh crabmeat and oysters are kept on ice, and four cozy aisles where you can get a weeks worth of groceries during a short, pleasant visit. 

The big surprise for newcomers is that the place is also a foodies dream. The produce shelves brim with fruits and vegetables from local farms. There are all kinds of good cheeses and fresh cut meats and healthy marinades along with gourmet pastas and old fashioned licorices and penny candy-style goodies at the register (which, alas, do cost a bit more than a penny). 

The availability of these gourmet items along with all of the everyday stuff drives the very smart business strategy that has enabled this tiny and beloved place to evolve and thrive year after year, according to Darren Purcell, Lloyd and Dotties son. 

One thing Ive seen is people having a lot more knowledge about organic stuff. Theyre also asking for premium products, like Angus steaks, and rotisserie turkeys and specially-cut hams and rib roasts for the holidays. If a customer asks for something, well get it in. Sometimes it becomes a bestseller.

Although Darren and his family believe customer loyalty is rooted in the markets products and service, people around town also appreciate the stores impact on the cultural life of Lewes. In a note written to Lloyd in April 1998, local historian Hazel D. Brittingham described spending time as a child in the store when it was owned by the Prettyman family during the 1930s:

I recall the small lunch room off to the right, where your meat department is now. I also recall a lovely bar-type structure all across the back with a counter and stools. Mrs. Prettyman would let us children play there if Mr. Prettyman wasnt in the store.

While Brittinghams memories reach far back into the last century, the store predates even her recollections. It was built by Glenwood Harrington in 1929, and sold to Jacob Prettyman in the early 1930s. In 1946 the Prettymans sold the store to Frank Robinson, who operated it for more than two decades before he sold it to Lloyd. 

In a December 1, 2000 Cape Gazette story by Dennis Forney, Robinson remembered that in the early years we made sandwiches every day for the school kids because they didnt have a cafeteria at the time. For 10 cents theyd get a sesame seed roll with a piece of baloney and cheese and mustard, and for another nickel theyd get a soda.

Lloyd, who graduated from Lewes High School, where he dated Dottie, worked at Tom Bests Ace Hardware and the A&P before going to work for Robinson in 1963. When the owner decided to retire, he asked his employee if he would like to buy the store. Lloyd didnt have enough money, but Frank said he would take payments and directed him to a grocery wholesaler who would finance the purchase. 

As relative newcomers to (downtown) Lewes, were glad he did! Over the next few weeks were going to talk with Active Adults Realty agents who worked all over Delaware about some of the favorite places in the neighborhoods they call home. Were looking forward to learning about more small markets, special yet undiscovered nature spots, and interesting cultural attractions. We might even discover another cool place thats a bit like Lloyds somewhere near you.

Stay tuned . . . 

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