A 77-year old Baltimore institution will come to an end this month when Gundy’s Gift Shop in Roland Park closes permanently.
Located across Deepdene Road from the neighborhood post office since the 1980s, the fiercely old-fashioned shop was a favorite place for last minute cards and gifts for birthdays, anniversaries and other occasions.
It carried everything from picture frames, placemats and calendars to stuffed animals, clothing and Marylandia. It was the only place that featured every poster by Baltimore artist Greg Otto.
Diane Lochte, owner of the shop at 739 Deepdene Road, wrote a letter on July 2 to notify friends and patrons that the shop will be closing at the end of July.
“This letter is to inform the neighborhood that Gundy’s Gift Shop will be closing our doors for the last time on Saturday, July 30, 2016 at 4:00 p. m.” Lochte wrote in a message that was posted on Facebook by the Roland Park Civic League.
Gundy’s has been part of the Roland Park Community since 1953, I have been an employee then owner, since 1981. It has been a true pleasure to be a part of this lovely community, to watch kids grow up, get married and have children of their own.
I want the neighborhood to be the first to know that our liquidation sale begins on Tuesday, July 5, with all sales final. The last day to place any personalized orders will be on July 9th.
“Thank you all for your support and friendship through the years.
Visited today in her shop, where a “Going Out of Business Sale” sign is posted in the front window, Lochte, a longtime Woodberry resident, said she has two reasons for closing.
First, she said, is that she recently remarried and is moving to northern Virginia.
But second, she said, she decided that she can no longer compete with online businesses.
“The last eight years…have been a struggle, and I just can’t compete with the internet,” she said. “Amazon is way too big for me. It has really affected my business, the gift industry. It’s just the trend, which is unfortunate.”
Lochte said she always tried to emphasize customer service, and that seems to be disappearing with the internet.
“Baltimore is losing the customer service, the face to face interaction when you come in. It’s going to be gone,” she said. “I’m all about customer service. I’m all about calling people by name, getting to know their kids and grandkids and watching them grow up. It’s the end of an era.”
Lochte is the third owner of Gundy’s, and Deepdene Road is its fourth location. The shop was started in 1939 in the Pimlico era by Jean and Harold “Gundy” Gundersheimer. The second owners were Ruth and Fenn Nachman, who moved it to Reisterstown Road Plaza.
In the 1950s, Gundy’s opened at 5121 Roland Avenue, where a branch of Wells Fargo Bank is now, and in 1984 it moved around the corner to Deepdene. Lochte started working for the Nachmans 35 years ago and has been the owner for the last 21 years.
Lochte said Gundy’s has been on a month to month lease, and she wasn’t pressured by her landlord to move. She said she didn’t attempt to sell the store to anyone else and doesn’t know who will move into the 1,000-square-foot space after she leaves.
Many of the people who came into the shop today said they’re sorry to learn it is closing. More than a few hugged the owner and wished her well. They marveled at the variety of merchandise she offered, likening the shop to a mini-department store.
“You don’t know what to get. You come in here and you figure it out,” said a customer named Cindy. “For my 92-year-old father, I could find something…Diane is such a good shop owner.”
“It’s very sad,” said Roland Park resident Neetu Dhawan-Gray. “It’s a neighborhood destination place. All generations I can buy for, babies to grandmas. It’s tasteful. It’s unique. I’m not a mall shopper. I’m not an online shopper. For me, this is heaven.”