The Daily Times of Salisbury
OCEAN CITY, Md. (AP) — Boardwalk businesses come and go, but one in particular has held strong throughout the years — until now.
After more than 75 years, the once-bustling department store Edwards will soon shut its doors for good.
According to owner Bill Dreibelbis, the plan is to close the business at the end of October to expand the neighboring Quiet Storm surf shop.
Although nothing is set in stone, he said there have been talks about holding a closing ceremony to bid farewell to Edwards and everything the name stood for.
“It’s been a landmark in Ocean City for over 70 years,” he said. “That’s a long time.”
Employee Billie Joe Holland has been greeting customers for more than 20 years, and said most are sad to hear the news.
“Customers come in and tell me, `I’ve been shopping here since the store had wooden floors,”‘ she said. “We have a lot of returning customers, both local and from out-of-town, and it’s safe to say they’ll be upset to see it go.”
The North Division Street store was founded in 1937. From the day it opened, it welcomed the community with open arms.
“When you walked into the store, you felt at home,” said George Hurley, former manager of the business for nearly 15 years. “It was always a beehive of activity.”
One of the only convenient stores on the Boardwalk, Edwards became a go-to shopping destination.
“They sold everything from screws to sewing needles, beachwear to cosmetics,” Hurley recalled.
He attributes much of the store’s success to General Manager Alfred Harmon and President Doris Endsminer — faces of the company for nearly three decades.
“They were always at one of the stores and everyone in the community respected them tremendously,” Hurley said. “They were truly great people.”
As Ocean City’s population grew, so did Edwards. From the 1940s to the 1960s, it was the business hub of the resort.
Sally Ruka, owner of the Lankford Hotel, said Edwards was Ocean City’s original department store.
“There were no fancy displays, no huge store sales,” she said. “It was just a great place to purchase a huge variety of merchandise.”
And in those days, the customer was always right.
“Business in the ’50s was different,” she said. “There was more customer service and Edwards was a representation of that.”
Hurley, a longtime resort resident, said the store was an important part of the community that will not soon be forgotten.
“It was a friendly place,” he said. “It brought us all together.”
Information from: The Daily Times of Salisbury, Md., http://www.delmarvanow.com/
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)