Laurel residents of the 1970s—particularly those in the South Laurel/Montpelier area—filled their pantries with Pantry Pride products for more than a decade.
The popular supermarket occupied the north corner anchor spot in Montpelier Shopping Plaza along Rt. 197; a location it had enjoyed for years, essentially competing only against the pricier Giant Food at nearby Town Center. According to a July 16, 1981 clipping from the Laurel Leader, Pantry Pride had been considered the most economical supermarket in all of Laurel—until Grand Union introduced “Basics”, its new store (and a precursor to Shoppers Food Warehouse) a few miles further north at the Laurel Plaza Shopping Center. When Food Fair—Pantry Pride’s parent company—filed for bankruptcy, that spelled the end for 48 locations in the region. On August 1, 1981, the long-time grocery favorite closed its doors.
I was only 8 years old at the time, which might explain why I have no memory of Pantry Pride television commercials such as this:
I do, however, remember going there frequently—usually with my grandparents, who lived at nearby Crestleigh Apartments at the time. And in hindsight, Pantry Pride might have been the first store closing that I ever experienced. I can recall a distinct sense of disappointment upon learning exactly what that meant—”going out of business”—and a sudden desire to retain something of the store for sentimental reasons, before it disappeared for good. (Something I obviously never grew out of, huh?)
Oddly enough, I have very little recollection of the store that replaced it some three months later, aside from its name—Cook’s Supermarket, part of another small chain of independent stores in the DC area.
Instead, I seem to remember Magruder’s occupying the space for most of my youth… although neither it nor Cook’s ever made quite the same impression on me as Pantry Pride.