HANCOCK, Md. (AP) — Hepburn Orchard Fruit Market & Bakery was a fixture on the east end of Hancock for three decades before it closed in March 2010.
Eighteen months later on the same location — in fact, on the same foundation — Penny and Randy Pittman have opened Blue Goose Fruit Market & Bakery at 557 E. Main St.
Although it opened Nov. 21 just off Interstate 70, more than 60 state, county and local elected officials, and guests turned out last week to make it official with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The couple bought the property at auction in August 2010 and razed the former market down to the foundation, Randy Pittman said.
As president of the Hancock Chamber of Commerce, Penny Pittman said she hopes the traffic Blue Goose attracts will also visit the town’s other businesses.
About 40,000 vehicles a day pass by on I-70, and Penny Pittman said the location of the fruit market will entice some of them to stop.
“We’ve been kind of born and bred for retail business,” said Randy Pittman, whose family had been in the grocery business. After coming back from Vietnam in 1968, he said he got a liquor license and opened a package store. Twenty years ago they bought Weaver’s Restaurant.
“We wanted to take it up to another level,” Randy Pittman said of the business, which will be open year around, seven days a week, and offer a wider range of products than many fruit and vegetable markets.
“It’s not just a fruit market,” said Penny Pittman, who noted that it has a gift and floral department, where Tina Wallman was making floral arrangements and wreaths. In a few weeks, Blue Goose will open an ice-cream shop, she said.
In addition to the spacious indoor market, Penny Pittman said there will be an outdoor patio where plants and flowers will be sold through the spring, summer and fall, and Christmas trees will be offered in the winter.
The market currently has 10 employees, with plans to add five more during the spring and summer months, Penny Pittman said.
As spring approaches, seasonal fruits and vegetables, much of it grown on Washington County farms, will be sold, along with gourmet foods from Robert Rothschild Farms, McCutcheon’s, Stonewall Kitchens and Jake & Amos, among others, Penny Pittman said.
In the back of the store were scores of pies in about 30 varieties from apple to strawberry rhubarb, as well other baked
goods, ciders, jellies and jams.
Blue Goose is also green.
The roof on the south side of the building is covered with 220 solar panels. Inside, there are 12-foot diameter ceiling fans that should reduce the need to use air-conditioning in the summer, she said.
As much as possible, local companies were used in the construction of Blue Goose, Penny Pittman said.
“That’s quite a leap of faith … in this economic climate,” said Tom Riford, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County
Convention and Visitors Bureau, of the Pittman’s newest venture.
It was another piece of good economic news in Hancock, which lost much of its industrial base in the past decade.
Earlier this year, the town announced it had reached an agreement with Evolve Composites Inc. to open in the former
Fleetwood Travel Trailer plant to produce lightweight precast concrete products.
The seven-year lease on the town-owned building calls for Evolve to create at least 60 jobs in its first three years.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)