Small Midtown Market Still Doing Big Business

By Patricia B. Mitchell

Jan Harris

Jan Harris points out private-label, Moravian, and Kitchen Kettle Village specialties at Midtown Market.

Savory aromas tempt you as soon as you step inside Danville, Virginia's Midtown Market. The neighborhood grocery, which first opened on December 21, 1921, and has been in continuous operation ever since, is a friendly, family-owned business. Jan Grant Harris is the petite lady who “minds the store.” Her brother Gary Grant, their mother, Mrs. B.C. Grant, and an able staff help serve the faithful clientele.

The delightful smells and the sight of appetizing foods at Midtown Market lead to the even more enjoyable experience of consuming such store specialities as custom-cut meats and made-on-the-premises chicken salad (1500-1800 lbs. of chicken salad are sold per week). The staff can also provide party tray selections of fruits, cheeses, meats, vegetables, or ham biscuits.

Perry Howerton and James Cook

Regular Midtown Market customer Perry Howerton receives a custom-wrapped specialty cut from butcher James Cook.

Deli-type meats and cheese are also available by the slice or the ounce. Brie and Havarti are current favorites. And why not pick out a nice wine, too? Midtown Market has a small, but good, wine selection. The store also carries private label salad dressings, jams, and jellies; and Kitchen Kettle Village, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, relishes, jams and jellies. Moravian cookies from Old Salem, and melt-in-your-mouth butter creme mints are stocked. Standard grocery store merchandise is found at Midtown, too — crackers, flour, soup, etc.

Besides all the appealing food, and just as important, is the old-fashioned charm of the grocery store and the helpfulness of the staff. Personal service is not a thing of the past in the quaint white-frame structure on Chambers Street. When you peruse the aisles you are unaware of the security cameras, computers, and totally modern kitchen to the rear of the store. You just feel comfortable and cozy; and if you can't find an item, someone there will be happy to help.

To experience old-time grocery shopping, visit Midtown Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Midtown Market

The Midtown Market building on Chambers Street has changed surprisingly little on the outside or inside since it opened as Church's Grocery on December 21, 1921.

Jan Harris and Gordon Hodges

Distributor Gordon Hodges checks the Nabisco products selection with Midtown's Jan Harris.

James Cook

James Cook stays busy preparing Midtown's highly-reputed cuts of meat.

Nuts and Mints

Jan Harris shows Patricia Mitchell pastel party mints among the nuts, popcorn, and other snack foods.

Wine Selections

Jan Harris and Patricia Mitchell bookend the wine collection, which, like Midtown Market itself, is diminutive and professional.

Mug right

Midtown Market's souvenir mug.

Mug left

A left-handed coffee drinker sees this side of Midtown Market's souvenir mug.