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Shutler’s Market closing doors for good Dec. 31

T-L Photos/KIM NORTH PICTURED IS the Shutler family. From left, are Ben, Vickie, Ed, Josh and Zac. Ed and Vickie have owned Shutler’s Market on South Zane Highway for more than 66 years. The store is closing Dec. 31.

MARTINS FERRY — New Year’s Eve traditionally is a very festive day. For one Martins Ferry family business, however, it will be bittersweet.

Shutler’s Market, located at 1007 S. Zane Highway, will close its doors for good after more than 66 years of serving residents of not only the Purple City, but the surrounding areas of Belmont County as well.

Known for its fresh-cut meats and cheeses, along the wide variety of homemade side dishes and soups it offers daily, Shutler’s Market was started in 1950 by Ed Shutler Sr. and his brother, Chuck. There were actually two stores within blocks of each other just down the street on either side, but they eventually combined into the present location in the early 1960s.

Ed Shutler Jr. took control of the store in mid-1999 when his father died. He and his wife, Vickie, have run the store with invaluable help from their three sons — Zac, Josh and Ben — and several loyal employees, including Ed’s cousin Bill Bosley, who has been with the market for 32 years.

“Ed has been working here since he was 10 years old,” Vickie said of her dedicated spouse. “I’ve been told that he had a little stool that he kept in the corner. He’d come here after school, get his stool and stock the shelves.”

That tradition carried on when their three boys came along, according to Vickie, who served as spokesperson for the family and wears several hats around the store, including office manager.

“They’ve been around here since they were old enough to walk, but they’ve worked here since they were probably 7 years old,” she recalled. “They have basically grown up around here.”

She recalled the athletically inclined trio playing baseball in the back room.

“They’d make balls out of foil and some type of rod for the bat. They’d play for hours running around back there,” she said. “There is so much family and love within these walls. We’re excited and happy with our decision, but our customers are sad because of the love they had for us. They could’ve said, ‘Oh well,’ but they haven’t said that. They are really sad.”

Zac, the eldest of the three sons, took a recent trip around the store, recalling some of his fondest memories.

“I remember coming down here on Sundays and kind of helping Dad stock the shelves. We would build forts out of the paper towel boxes and draw pictures on them. He would pay us $1, and I think that his way of showing us what work ethic was. We could get a pack of gum, a pack of baseball cards and a Tootsie Pop.

“There was a black-and-white TV right here,” he said pointing to a stack of boxes next to a kitchen sink area. “We would watch the Steelers game together when we weren’t working. Then we would wash dishes on Fridays and Grandpap Shutler would stand over top of me (and tell me) how I was doing it wrong over and over again.”

He also recalled stocking the shelves, just like his dad started out.

“Several times we would get in arguments because I wouldn’t do it his way,” he said of his dad. “It was always wipe the shelves down, rotate the stock and turn the labels out toward the aisle. Sometimes I would just want to get it done, so I could get out of here and move on. But it was always wipe the shelf, rotate the stock and face the labels.

“I’ll always remember that as being another way of teaching us to do things right. Don’t let your quality of work slide just because you’re in a hurry. You’ll just have to do it again, and people remember the quality of your work. Those things were instilled in me from a very young age.

“I don’t think any of us would be the people we are today had it not been for the work ethic of our parents and the store.”

Josh, who has worked at the store more than his brothers, also had nothing but good things to say.

“Actually, this is the first summer that I haven’t worked here full time,” he said. “I would always come down here and help out. I’m very proud of my parents for running this successful store as long as they have.”

Ben echoed the sentiments of his older siblings.

“I got a lot of time here, probably even before I could walk,” he said. “My biggest memory was from New Year’s Eves, when we would come here as a family and invite some friends to help us do inventory. Then when we’d get done, we’d go back to our home and have some family time. It’s all we’ve ever done and ever known.”

Of course, family members haven’t been the only employees of the store over the years.

“We have had and still have great employees,” Vickie stressed. “Bill (Bosley) has been very loyal … very loyal.”

Other employees include Helen Antosz, who died after 30 years of service; Carol Mallis (30 years); Debbie Mirich; Anna McCutcheon; Dorothy Holler; and Faye Coulson.

Ed and Vickie agreed they will miss their loyal customers more than anything.

“Some of them are like our family they’ve been coming in here for so long,” Vickie said. “There has been a lot of tears shed by our customers for the love we’ve shared with them over the years. I told Ed, ‘Who would’ve known that our customers had that much love for us?’

“The people of Martins Ferry have supported us, and we are thankful for that,” she continued. “We wouldn’t have been here for this long without them.”

“It’s been a way of life for us for so many years,” Ed said. “We have a lot of faithful, dedicated people. We’ve seen generations of families come through here.”

Ed said that before the new Ohio 7 was built, there was a lot more business at his store.

“There was so much traffic through here back in the day that we were non-stop at times,” he remembered. “It was good at that time.”

While one chapter of Ed and Vickie’s lives closes, it opens up another chapter that should be just as, if not more, enjoyable.

“Our grandkids,” she beamed when asked what the next chapter will hold for them. “We have six grandkids that we are looking forward to spending more time with. Although we live in the same (Colerain) neighborhood and see them all the time, there are times when we are needed to help with the grandkids that we haven’t been able to.”

Martins Ferry Mayor Bob Krajnyak, who worked at the store during his high school days, called the closing date a sad day for the community.

“It was one of the symbols of Martins Ferry,” he said. “While I’m sad to see it close, I’m happy for the Shutlers because now they can enjoy their families and take care of themselves.”

Following the closing at the end of this year, an auction will be held at 10 a.m. Jan. 7 in which everything — remaining stock, shelving, slicers, cash registers, scales and deli display cases to name a few items — must go.

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