Acquired Charms/Barber’s Daughter Deals on Memory Lane

by Nathan Oravec

“I don’t think there’s anything else like us in Hagerstown,” says Pam Kennedy, owner and namesake of The Barber’s Daughter, a new shop in the Hub City dealing in fine furniture and décor from yesteryear.

Pam, who opened the shop with her husband, Dan, has been in the business of antiquities for nearly ten years, previously operating a small store in the Waynesboro, which she describes as “kind of a hobby.” Last December, the couple moved into a historic home on Prospect Street in Hagerstown, and, before long, became enamored with the city itself. “We fell in love with this place,” she says. Soon, plans to launch a new business were underway.

After a thorough search of the downtown area came up empty - “The logistics didn’t work for us. We couldn’t find anything with the loading or unloading capacity we were looking for,” she says - a quaint, historic property was located on the corner of East Washington Street; the perfect showcase for the Kennedy’s nostalgic wares.

Almost a year following the couple’s arrival to Hagerstown, their contribution to the city, The Barber’s Daughter, celebrated its Grand Opening on October 10, 2003; its ribbon cutting attended by the mayor and members of the city council. “The city has been so good to us,” says Pam. “It has offered us so much support and guidance.”

“I am the Barber’s Daughter,” Pam explains with a smile. “My father was a barber and always wanted me to be a barber, too. He passed away when I was a young woman. I did this as a tribute to him.”

As a merchant for myriad memories - items and charming relics that take one back to earlier comforts and simpler times - it was a fitting tribute. “We definitely have a niche,” says husband Dan. Not considering herself a marketer of antiques, Pam, he notes, coined the term “funtiques” to convey the concept of fine furniture and collectibles that are both entertaining and affordable, while perhaps showing some of the rustic wear attributed to age. “We’re not into top of the line antiques that are pristine or perfect,” she notes. Its inventory spanning the 30s, 40s and 50s, “Everything we sell,” Pam says, whether a vinyl chair, brass bookends, or a classic turntable, “has a lot of character.”

Yet another aspect, Pam believes, that sets The Barber’s Daughter apart, is its unique interior design scheme. “We display by room settings,” she says. From living to bedrooms, each visit feels like that to an old friend’s house, cozy and welcoming, except here - everything is for sale. “It really helps people to visualize how something’s going to look when they get it home.”

For Pam, gathering these special items is almost a full-time job in and of itself. Her collection, she says, is not culled from consignment, and very rarely will she or Dan purchase anything outright from others. “I spend an inordinate amount of time at estate sales,” she exclaims. “On average, I attend at least three auctions per week.” For her, it seems, the excitement lies in the hunt for that spectacular treasure which will ultimately make someone’s home complete. “You never know what you might find. Sometimes, you might spend five hours at an auction and end up with one item, or you might spend an hour and come home with a truckload. That’s part of the adventure.”

So far says Dan, since its October opening, business has been good. “We’ve had customers come up from Frederick and even as far as DC.”

“We’ve found that a lot of people stop in just because they love this old building,” says Pam. “They come in to take a look at this charming, old structure and end up buying something.”

While the name of the business spotlights one individual, the store’s operation is certainly a family affair. While Pam, Dan and the couple’s dog, Maggie, man the Hagerstown storefront, Pam’s son Derik heads up things at The Barber’s Daughter’s second location in Greencastle, Pennsylvania. According to Dan, Pam’s mother Mary, 92-years old, also contributes - hand crafting pillows, sweaters, and Christmas stockings for sale in the shops.

For Dan, his involvement had more to do with working alongside his wife than with the intriguing conversation pieces themselves. “I shared the passion for owning our own business - and for being able to spend more time together,” he says. “But I’m certainly learning the business fast.”

As Pam prepares to leave for the day, Dan calls after her. “Are we going to that estate sale tonight?”

The Barber’s Daughter simply smiles.

Hours for The Barber’s Daughter, 240 East Washington Street, are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 12-3 p.m. For more information, call 866-797-0030.