This is Buzzy's Country Store blog designed to keep you apprised of what's going on at the Store. Buzzy's is a general store located in St. Mary's County, Southern Maryland near Pt. Lookout State Park. Buzzy and Jean Ridgell purchased the Store from Jean's father Harry Raley in 1953. Buzzy operated it until his passing in 2009. His son J. Scott Ridgell is the current owner.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Country Store Trilogy - Pt. 1 Swann's

Back in 2007, as I was in the process of assuming ownership of Buzzy's Country Store, I did my homework by visiting and talking with three individuals - Rick Swann, Ray Raley and David Dent.  Knowing that they too had each taken over an old time, Country Store from family members, I wanted their inputs and insights to try and gauge what I was getting into. 

All three of these stores were what used to be termed Gro-bars in that they started out as grocery stores with a bar.   Raley's would eventually drop the bar when they built their new store complex that also provided space for the Ridge Post Office.  Swann's and Dent's also housed the Post Offices in their businesses.  

All three of these Stores were similar in that they served their local communities and managed to succeed very well doing so.  Interestingly enough, like great empires that come and go, all three of these local stores were most successful at different periods in time.  

Back in the day, Swann's Store with it's hotel, cottages, bar, store and pier business was a very happening place.  By the time that Swann's disappeared from the scene, Ray and Dan Raley had moved and expanded their Dads' small Country Store into the much bigger Town and Country Supermarket.  They had a very successful business until they sold it in 2006.  Today, it is David and Andy who have their Dad's Store doing very well with a grocery business along with a bar and a restaurant.   

So for the next couple days, I'd like to take a look at each of these businesses starting today with Swann's Store.  As I mentioned above, in it's glory years, Swann's was quite the place.  Here is a good photo showing the hotel, some of the cottages, the Store and the pier.

Swann's Store and Hotel 1960's Photo Courtesy Ronnie Pegg

I found this from something in the Maryland Historical Trust:

Note:  The Torpedo Test Range mentioned is currently the Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship.  For a good article on the Torpedo Base by Viki Volk (click here.)
From FB https://www.facebook.com/pineypointmd/
Ask anyone of a certain age if they remember Swann's Store and not far into the conversation the subject of boat races will come up. Here is an older (1936) ad followed by a more recent (1960's) photo of spectators watching the races.

From https://www.facebook.com/pineypointmd/
Courtesy Mike Russell on Massey's You Know You're From St Marys County FB
I included the snow photo above to give you an idea of how Swann's looked.  Note the Post Office to the left of the building.  Also, note how they had both a Pepsi sign as well as a Coke sign.

Rick Swann ran the store thru the 80's before selling it.  The hotel burned down in 2001 and subsequent owners eventually tore down the Store and built townhouses on the property.

When I first moved to Piney Point in 1979, going into Swann's Store always made me feel like I was walking into Buzzy's Country Store.  That feeling helped me come to regard Piney Point as my home.  However,  today I still feel a twinge of sadness every time I drive past and look over to see the following:

Trees and Townhouses Now Stand Where Swann's Used To Be
Like John Lee says here "It just ain't, it just ain't no good."

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