The former Odorite building at 1111 Maryland Ave. Photo by Ed Gunts.
The former Odorite building at 1111 Maryland Ave. Photo by Ed Gunts.

Another long-time business has left the Mount Vernon area, citing crime as one of the reasons.

This time it’s Odorite of Baltimore Inc., the cleaning products supply company that was at 1111 Maryland Ave. for many years. Before that, it occupied a distinctive building at Maryland and Mount Royal avenues that was replaced by the University of Baltimore’s Student Center, after a prolonged preservation battle.

Odorite’s move comes less than two weeks after Eddie’s of Mount Vernon permanently shut its doors at 7-11 W. Eager St. after 24 years, citing shoplifting and a drop in business among their reasons for closing. Eddie’s last day of business was June 29. The Eager Street property had housed a grocery store since 1939.

Unlike Eddie’s, Odorite has not ceased operations; it has been sold. Odorite owner and president Owen Lewis, 58, said he sold his business to Viking Chemical Company in Westport and the Odorite operation is now part of Viking’s business at 2325 Banger St.

Before the sale, Odorite of Baltimore was a family-owned business that had been selling and servicing cleaning and janitorial products, insecticides, touchless towel dispensers and other items since 1947. It took its name from Odorite, a deodorizing and degreasing agent with highly active cleaning additives.

The Maryland Avenue operation had walk-in business from the surrounding community, but it also worked with large companies. It repaired vacuum cleaners. It was a godsend for college students and other apartment dwellers in search of cleaning suppliers so they could try to get their security deposits back after move-out day. One of the employees’ sayings was: “If it smells good, it sells good.” Lewis said it did millions of dollars worth of business a year.  

“From stadiums, health-care facilities and institutions to business, churches and homes, our clients throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area rely on us to provide expert advice, prompt service and the best cleaning products and equipment available,” states the Odorite website,

Signs on the storefront of the old Odorite building inform that Odorite has merged with Viking Chemical at 2325 Banger Street. Photo by Ed Gunts.
Signs on the storefront of the old Odorite building inform that Odorite has merged with Viking Chemical at 2325 Banger Street. Photo by Ed Gunts.

Lewis said most of the Odorite’s 13 employees were retained by Viking, although not all, and the company moved out of its Maryland Avenue location to Banger Street last weekend. Its hours at the new location are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. The two-story Maryland Avenue building stands empty. The Odorite website hasn’t been updated to reflect the recent changes.

Lewis said in a phone interview Friday that he was “getting tired of the area” Odorite was in and had been “looking to sell” his business. He said the sale to Viking has been in the works for a year.

Asked why he was getting tired of the area, he brought up the subject of crime and a recent incident on his property.

“I have to say that Baltimore is not enforcing its laws and it was time to leave,” he said.

Three weeks ago, he explained, “someone was shot in our parking lot” and there was a “remarkable” amount of blood and other evidence of the shooting all over one wall.

Because he didn’t see a body, he said, he figured someone drove away with the victim. He said city police were called, and “nobody ever showed up.”

Lewis said that wasn’t the only incident that made him think it was time to leave, but he didn’t go into further details. Asked if Odorite was plagued by shoplifting the way Eddie’s was, he said “you’d be surprised.”

Lewis said he is now working for Viking and plans to sell the vacant building on Maryland Avenue, a highly visible property near the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and the University of Baltimore campus. He said he offered to sell it to a neighboring property owner, thinking that company might like to expand. But he said the neighbor told him if they ever moved, they would leave the area, too.

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.

7 replies on “Odorite of Baltimore is the latest business to leave the Mount Vernon area, citing crime as one of the reasons”

  1. Odorite is a horrible corporate citizen run by awful people. They encouraged hostility toward cyclists and told their customers and delivery people to park in the cycletrack when they had an empty parking lot feet away, immediately adjacent to their building. I am glad to see them go and hope a legitimate business takes over that space.

  2. Hey Fred,

    It’s a for profit business he doesn’t own his business for charity reasons. Maybe since you want the lot so bad for your bike, why don’t you buy the lot now!!!

  3. Wondering why the “reporter” didn’t follow up on the claim by the former owner that someone was shot in their parking lot and the police were called “but nobody showed up”. Seems extremely dubious. Actually, it sounds totally made up.

    1. Thank you! Not saying that it sounds suspicious but just oh my God absolutely NO ONE knows how to do JOURNALISM anymore. It’s an entirely Lost art like something prehistoric or some s***. Report an objective fact pattern that you researched from multiple sources? Never heard of it. – Journalists, between the lines of their articles. Not to be rude but everybody’s sleeping on the job and at the same time wondering why nobody buys the newspaper anymore? The newspaper isn’t any better than my middle school newspaper on average. Sometimes worse. We live in a crazy world right now, and it’s often hard to understand, especially for little people with impeded access to quality education; I genuinely feel that it’s a disgrace to not take the responsibility of relaying the news seriously seriously.

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