McCarrick’s Dairy, the small Rocky Point grocery store that has fed generations of local residents and once delivered milk to hundreds of homes, is going out of business this week after 71 years.
The store will close its doors for the final time at 6 p.m. Friday after clearing out as much of its remaining stock as possible. A steady stream of customers came to the store Monday to wish its owners — brothers Hugh and Kevin McCarrick, and their sister Bridget Idtensohn — a happy retirement.
The siblings said they decided to close the market on Route 25A because their grown children had decided to embark on other careers.
“When they went into different occupations, we started to think we should begin planning for an exit,” Kevin McCarrick, 62, said. “It’s not the easiest occupation to be in.”
The store was founded by their parents, Thomas and Phyllis McCarrick, in 1946, when Rocky Point and its surrounding communities were dotted with farms. The dairy produced its own line of milk, which was delivered by trucks to hundreds of homes, schools and other businesses from Smithtown to Riverhead.
Home deliveries stopped in the mid-1970s, and McCarrick’s milk brand was discontinued several years ago.
Over seven decades, the business and the family became integral parts of Rocky Point. Family members helped organize the community’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and Kevin McCarrick served two terms on the Brookhaven Town Board, from 2004 to 2007.
Councilwoman Jane Bonner, who succeeded McCarrick on the town board, said the family regularly donates food and money to local charities.
“What a lot of people don’t know about is that they’re a very quiet benefactor for people in the community,” said Bonner, a Rocky Point resident who said she is a regular store customer. “They’re just a wonderful family. The retirement has sent shock waves through the community. It’s the end of an era.”
The McCarrick family plans to retain ownership of the store property. A new food store is expected to open there in a few months under a different name.
The McCarricks said the business remained strong despite competition from local supermarkets, convenience stores at gas stations and online businesses.
“We think we’re leaving at the right time,” Kevin McCarrick said.
Longtime customer Harold Salyer, 88, who remembered having McCarrick’s milk delivered to his family’s Sound Beach home when he grew up, said he would miss the store and the family’s generosity.
“If somebody needed something, they didn’t question it,” Salyer said. “They were just there.”
By the McCarrick family’s count, the store employed more than 50 family members and at least 500 local residents, many of them high school students whose first job was at the dairy.
Hugh McCarrick, 64, and Idtensohn, 53, said they would miss their customers.
“They’re not customers. They’re family,” Idtensohn said. “They’re our family.”