Lloyd’s isn’t just a place to buy groceries. The Lewes store connects customers to a simpler, and perhaps more satisfying, time.
By Chris Beakey | Photograph by Kevin Fleming
Should you find Libby Lynch, who was born in Beebe Hospital 90 years ago, sitting on her porch at Market and Third streets in Lewes, she’ll be happy to reminisce about “the old days” when locals bought most of their clothing, home goods and groceries in town.
It might seem like those days are gone forever — unless you’ve visited Lloyd’s Market on Savannah Road, which has been owned and operated by Lloyd and Dottie Purcell since 1971. The market today is much as it’s always been, with quaint signs on the large front windows advertising specials, chickens turning on a rotisserie next to the fisherman’s cooler where fresh crabmeat and oysters are kept on ice, and four cozy aisles where a cart can be loaded with a week’s worth of groceries in short order.
“I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have that store right here in town,” Lynch says after a recent shopping trip, where Lloyd’s staff and a neighbor who arrived at the same time lent her a hand. “I think I’ve known everyone who’s worked there — they’ve all been really good people.”
Photos of many store employees are prominently displayed near the entrance. Some have worked at Lloyd’s for decades, forging strong connections to customers and to the Delmarva farmers who supply more than 90 percent of Lloyd’s produce during the summer months. Among those farmers are 10-year-old Cailan Wilkinson and his 5-year-old brother, Aiden, the unlikely purveyors of Brothers Organic Produce. The boys’ family began growing vegetables at their Mulberry Street home in Lewes in 2012 before moving to a larger property on Gills Neck Road last year. Today, the Wilkinsons count on Lloyd’s as a first stop when they bring their harvests to market.
Their mom, Melanie, explains how the relationship with the store began: “The boys started out with their stand by the sidewalk and by making brown bag deliveries to a few people in town. But when it came to thinking beyond that, my husband, who’s a local, knew exactly where they could go. He made a call, and Lenny met them at the back door, and told them he’d be happy to sell their produce.”
Lenny is Lloyd’s son-in-law. He’s worked at the store alongside his wife, Amy, and Lloyd and Dottie’s son, Darren, for 20 years. They all enjoy sharing memories of the early days, when Dottie — driving her red pickup known as “Big Red” — procured much of the produce from farmers on the back roads from Dover to Lewes. And, as de facto spokespeople for Lloyd, who prefers to stay out of the spotlight, they also share a special kind of pride in the store’s unique way of doing business.
“There’s this cliche about small markets — people automatically think they’re going to have to pay more, until they come in and see that’s just not true,” Darren says after a long morning spent stocking shelves. “No one in this family’s getting rich from this store, but we’ve survived by keeping prices low. Plus we all really like it when people come in and talk to us about things that are happening in their lives.”
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