SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Bennett’s Creek Farm Market in Suffolk has closed its doors for good after nearly 60 years.

The beloved, local landmark posted the news on Facebook Monday evening stating that they have been unable to “keep the market alive” and that the market would not reopen.

In the post, Steve Jefferys, who identified himself as the general manager, thanked the community for supporting the market the past year he’d been involved in the business.

In a statement that followed, longtime owners James “Jim” and Martha Shirley lamented it was competition and economic challenges including higher labor and food costs that lead them to close their doors after six decades.

The market at 3881 Bridge Road in Suffolk, recognized for the famous cow on the roof, opened in 1963. It offered surrounding residents fresh-cut meats, local produce, fresh seafood, made-to-order deli sandwiches, a hot case serving three meals a day with lunch and dinner specials, and local Virginia products.

Originally opened by the Matthews family in what was then-Nansemond County, the business was bought by the Shirleys in 1997. The Matthews family members continued to work in the market.

Even as North Suffolk grew with more and more businesses popping up on Bridge Rd., Bennett’s Creek Farm Market was a staple.

In 2022 the Shirleys, now in their eighties, decided it was time to move toward retirement. They wanted a tenant willing to continue operating the market. That’s where they found the Jefferys.

Steve and his wife Nicole took over in 2022 with the vision to continue expanding the market offerings.

However, in a press release, the Shirley couple said inflation worked against them.

Prices for goods had risen beyond the price they were willing to sell them at without pushing away their clientele according to Jim Shirley. A full-size Harris Teeter sits less than a mile away.

Jim also said he pursued a sale of the market that “did not develop as they had hoped.”

“I have turned down multiple offers from developers and wanted to continue this nostalgic local market in an area where a piece of the past is so important. I have invested over 25 years and a great deal of money into the business, including renovations, upgrades and payroll. Unfortunately, I have been unsuccessful in finding a tenant with the commitment and funds to keep the market going as it is. As a businessman, I had to make that hard decision. It is never easy or pleasant to close a business. I know all too well how it affects employees and the community. It is the very reason I have put this off for so many years.”

– Jim Shirley

Just hours before the social media post, a listing from Rose and Womble Realty, appeared and listed the property for $3 million.

Janet Appel, who works for the Shirley’s said the abrupt closure was also a business decision. If there was an announced closure at a later date, there was fear enough employees wouldn’t stay till the end.

She also added that the Shirleys were still assessing with what to do with all leftover food.

“Some may be donated. We are still working that out,” Appel said.

Jefferry’s himself posted he didn’t know until Monday night.

“We are thankful for the opportunity to meet and greet each and every one of you. It was an absolute pleasure. We are all at a loss for words. We tried. Please keep us and our crew in your thoughts and prayers. We will be back. We have a plan.”

– Steve Jefferys

He since has posted a Go-Fund-Me account to try and come up with a down payment on the property.

Community members have expressed their disappointment and anger on social media following the news. In nine hours, the post has garnered nearly 750 shares and over 400 comments from residents expressing their sadness regarding the closing.

Dozens of people even stopped by the market on Tuesday.

Some knew about the closure, others stopped to grab a photo and take in another look at the community staple.

Kevin Cargill says he used to eat breakfast at Bennett’s Creek Farm Market every morning. He says he was just here Saturday and it didn’t seem like any of the employees knew this was coming.

“I came here this morning because I mean, Kyle, was one of my favorites,” said Cargill. “He cooked the food.”

Ronnie Davis was forced to eat at 7-Eleven because it’s right next door.

“The best food you can get when you come around this way,” Davis said. “Gotta find somewhere else to get my good food from.”

A lot of the customers say it took them by surprise, because the parking lot was always full so it didn’t seem like they were struggling.

“You’d have to wait in line,” said Cargill. “It was just a neighborhood spot to go to.”

Check for the latest updates.