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Barber finds 'ideal' spot for his shop

January 25, 1998

Barber finds 'ideal' spot for his shop

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

Hagerstown barber Ed Hillegas had been thinking about moving his shop for some time.

The building at 909 Pennsylvania Ave. where he first opened Ideal Barber Shop in 1965, was showing its age, said Hillegas, 59.

Still, it took notification last fall that the original portion of the small shopping plaza, including his shop, was going to be torn down to get him to seriously look for a new location, he said.

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Thanks to his daughter, Patrice Kifer, Hillegas found a new home for the shop at 1021 Mount Aetna Road, a bigger, brighter space, a shorter commute, exposure in a new area and a view of Antietam Creek.

Kifer, an insurance agent, mentioned that a new shopping plaza was being built on Mount Aetna Road between Eastern Boulevard and Dual Highway, said Hillegas, who checked it out later that day.

He moved between Christmas and New Year's and opened the new shop on Jan. 2, he said.

"Good way to start the New Year," Hillegas said. "A little bit later in life, but it's always nice to make a nice, new change."

Given the loyalty of his clientele, Hillegas said he wasn't worried the move would cost him customers.

"I've had some of the same patrons 25, 30 years; in some cases, two or three generations of the same family, which makes it nice," he said.

He's given a lot of first haircuts over the years and witnessed the evolution of teenage hairstyles, he said.

In the 1970s, parents were fighting to get teens to cut even a little off, Hillegas said. In the 1990s, the teens are asking for more off, he said.

Conversations and meeting new people keep barbering from getting boring, Hillegas said.

While most of his customers are men, he has a few women customers with very short hairstyles, he said.

For the first five or six years after he opened his shop, when Hillegas had another barber working with him, he took walk-in business.

Since the man left to take a factory job, he's been running a one-man shop, with work done by appointment only, he said.

"I found it very satisfactory, a much better way of conducting business," Hillegas said.

As an insurance agent who works by appointment, long-time customer Odell Deiterich said he appreciates Hillegas' appointment-only system because it saves him from wasting time sitting around waiting.

That convenience, a haircut the way he likes it and Hillegas' sensitivity to his taste for quiet have kept Deiterich coming back to Hillegas every three weeks for more than 15 years.

"Once you get a barber, you stay with them if they're good," said Deiterich.

Customer response to the move has been very positive so far, despite the increase in price - from $6 to $8 - to cover the higher overhead, he said.

The shop hours are the same: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

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