Hampton’s Market: Center Grove’s First Family-Owned Grocery Store
Writer / Michelle Kaufman
Photographer / Brian Brosmer
Keith Hampton opened the store with his dad in 1974. Currently, Hampton and his wife co-own the store.
“That’s all I’ve ever done. I worked as a kid in a grocery store and bought that one. I guess I don’t know much else,” Hampton says.
The store’s most unique features are the meats and deli, which are popular items in the store. Customers come from areas such as Carmel and Mooresville just to buy meat at Hampton’s. The beef comes from Nebraska, but the pork comes from a more local vendor.
“We get as much local product as we can,” Hampton says. “The meat, it’s a better quality than what Marsh and other large grocery stores have. We’ve got meat cutters, one of them has been here for 45 years. We know everybody and everybody knows us. We know what they want.”
Hampton has seen more construction and competition in the area around his store over the years. Hampton remembers Marsh as being the first major chain to open near Hampton’s and has seen a change in how often customers buy food.
“I think probably the biggest difference is people used to buy groceries and meats for six nights a week,” he says. “One night, they might go out. Otherwise, they bought for seven days. Now, we all go out and eat three nights, four nights a week so there’s less meat sold now than probably back then.”
Hampton’s three daughters used to work at the market before moving away, but his grandson is still employed at Hampton’s. Hampton is semi-retired now. The store is primarily run by his wife and grandson.
A tornado damaged Hampton’s Market in 1997. The market kept all their employees employed at another family business, Boggstown Locker, but it took a year and a half for the market to reopen. Hampton was not in the market at the time of the tornado, but his father was along with customers.
“I was up there immediately after and everybody was alright, that was the important thing,” Hampton says. “The roof was kind of off of the grocery. We worked all night and we had a refrigerated truck too. We loaded up all the meat we had and everything that was perishable and took it over to Boggstown Locker, where we had a big freezer and three big coolers.”
The business chose to rebuild across the street after the tornado but made sure to remain in Center Grove. Hampton’s Market reopened in December 1998.
“We knew everybody here and, at that time, they were adding on several big neighborhood editions around us, so it was kind of a no-brainer that this was going to be here,” Hampton says. “When we reopened everybody was happy, including us. It was a pretty big day.”
Hampton’s Market’s regular customers have become friends to the Hampton family, and they look forward to continuing to provide service to the Center Grove and Greenwood community.