Rebecca Savage and her friend Susie Olfson are not bakers by trade. But last month, on a "last-minute impulse," the pair bought a quaint country store noted for its fruit pies and funky charm. Without their intervention, the following day West River Market would have closed after serving the Anne Arundel County town of Galesville for more than 145 years.
"We were just a couple of stay-at-home moms who didn't want the store to close," says Savage. "For us and the community, this is the center of town."
Originally known as Kolb's Store, the nostalgic market, with its overhead model railroad and hanging birdhouses, is more deli than grocery. Many of the customers either live on or work on the sailing and power crafts that dock at the nearby marinas on West River, a Chesapeake Bay tributary.
Some customers eat their chicken salad sandwich ($3.95) or Italian meatball sub ($4.50) in front of a wood-burning stove on benches where there are magazines and board games to pass the time. Others, in fair weather, walk a short distance to the county wharf, which has benches with a water view.
Pie baking, which gets underway at 5 each morning, is under the direction of Wanda Jones, who also worked for the previous owner. Apple, cherry, blueberry and peach pies with a buttery crust (eight-inch, $11 to $13 each) are the bestsellers. The women are taking orders for an annual Thanksgiving morning event called the Pie Run. Hundreds of antique auto enthusiasts from the region form a line of cars the length of Main Street headed for a pie pickup (though you don't have to have an antique car to buy a pie). Last year, more than 1,000 pies, primarily pumpkin ($10) and pecan ($13), were sold.
"The Pie Run is crazy," says Savage, who sells 40 to 60 pies on a typical Saturday. "I've never seen so much pie sold in one day."
West River Market, 1000 Main St. (Route 255), Galesville; 410-867-4844. www.westrivermarket.com. Open Monday through Thursday 7 a.m. to
3 p.m., Friday through Sunday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
-- Walter Nicholls