Over seventy years ago, when most folks purchased their groceries from a horse-drawn wagon, Henry Darrenkamp started selling produce door–to–door as a “huckster” in the Cabbage Hill area of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Henry knew the importance of hard work, caring for his customers and giving back to his community. His work ethic was not lost to his son George Darrenkamp, who saw a need to expand his father’s offering and in 1932 opened a permanent store in the front room of his home on Union Street, Lancaster Pennsylvania, and call it the “General Store”. As their business grew in that small “General Store” at 719 Union Street, so did their family. George and his wife Catherine raised a family of seven boys and one girl. Two of their sons, Dick & Jerry became interested in the family business and recognized the joy to be had in serving the many families of their neighborhood.
George, Dick and Jerry gradually outgrew the General Store and in 1948, built a new 3,000 square foot market at 713 Union Street, Lancaster Pennsylvania, next to their home and changed the business name to G. Darrenkamp & Sons. During the next fifty years the Darrenkamp family grew and became an essential part of the lives of the families they served. After George Darrenkamp’s death in 1968, Dick & Jerry continued to build the business until 1978 when Dick retired. This retirement allowed Jerry the opportunity to have his oldest son, Larry Darrenkamp, join the business in 1978 after his tour in the United States Navy. It was Dick Darrenkamp’s dedication to offer only the freshest custom cut meats that the Darrenkamp reputation for quality meats flourished and it was Larry Darrenkamp who focused on maintaining that tradition.
Throughout their childhood, Jerry’s other two sons Joe and Dave worked in the family business and quickly learned the Darrenkamp’s commitment to ensuring the customer was always treated with courtesy and respect. In 1985, with a focus on quality meats and outstanding customer service, Larry, Dave and Joe Darrenkamp expanded their market area by purchasing Dagen’s Market in Willow Street, Pennsylvania and operated the 15,000 square foot store as Darrenkamp’s Country Market. Jerry Darrenkamp was still involved in the business primarily as an “ambassador” to the customer and role model to the Darrenkamp’s Team Members.
In November of 1997 the Darrenkamp’s business grew to a new location in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania. This 35,000 square foot store expanded the Darrenkamp market share even further and enabled the family to service a completely new part of Lancaster County. With the opening of the Mount Joy store the company traded under the name of Darrenkamp’s Markets.
September of 1998 brought another expansion of the company with the purchase of the Willow Valley Market in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. A major expansion accompanied the acquisition and this 30,000 square foot store grew into the 50,000 square foot store of today, complete with a food court called Jane’s Café, named after Jerry’s wife. With the community acceptance of Darrenkamp’s in Mount Joy an expansion was necessary and in 2003 this store grew to a 45,000 square foot market with a pharmacy, expanded departments, and a Jane’s Café.
As the company continued to grow it became apparent that the original Union Street store could no longer offer the expanded Darrenkamp’s services. In July of 1999, the new Darrenkamp’s Markets bid farewell to its original location and the Union Street store was closed.
Again in 2014 Darrenkamp’s had the opportunity to expand their philosophy of quality meats and customer service to their first location outside of Lancaster County. Darrenkamp’s at Newberry Commons opened in April of 2014 in Etters, York County. This 38,485 square foot store offers a full line of grocery, dairy, frozen, produce, deli, seafood, and meat departments. It has become a welcome addition to the Etters community.
With the continuation of Henry Darrenkamp’s commitment to good, sound customer service, that started back in the early 1900’s, Darrenkamp’s Markets have flourished and even today the Darrenkamp family looks toward the future in fulfilling the needs of the communities they serve. This philosophy was best expressed by Jerry Darrenkamp when he said, “What separates true customer service from mere lip service is the willingness to put the customer first in everything we do!”