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Barbershop a 'dream come true' for owner

March 10, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

Lisa Carpegna's old-fashioned business philosophy is reflected in a sign at her Hagerstown shop: "Shave and a Haircut 2 Bits."

Although customers at her Kutter's Barber Shop will pay a little more than two bits for a cut, they'll likely feel as if they stepped back in time when they walk past the striped barber pole and into the cozy shop that's attached to the Carpegnas' home next to City Park.

Two barber's chairs loom large upon a checkerboard floor in front of a mirrored wall. Counters are topped with the tools of the trade - scissors, shears, clippers, razors and combs - with which Carpegna and her co-workers, cosmetologist Lisa Curry and master barber Ron Ballard, serve their male and female customers.

"I want to keep the tradition of the old-fashioned barbershop. This place is small enough that everyone can be part of the conversation," said Carpegna, 36, who has been cutting hair since 1989.

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"When you come in here, I want you to feel like you're coming into my home," she said.

Carpegna and her husband, Scott, bought the house and attached barbershop last fall from longtime Hagerstown barber Harold "Frenchie" French, who retired last August after more than 40 years in the barbering business.

"This is a dream come true for me," Carpegna said. "I've always wanted to own a shop in my house."

Carpegna earned her degree in cosmetology from Award Beauty School in Hagerstown but found her niche as a barber.

After a brief stint in a local beauty salon, she went to work for Dale Ford at Long Meadow Barber Shop. She stayed there for five years before leaving to open her own shop at Burhans Plaza.

"My heart's in barbering," said Carpegna. She credits her husband with helping to make her business - which continued to grow during Kutter's eight years at Burhans Plaza - a success.

"Scott's been my biggest supporter," she said. "He's always been right there with me."

The couple and their 14-year-old son, Dustin, moved into their 605 Virginia Ave. home in September and opened Kutter's at its new location in January.

"The location is great for this neighborhood," said Doug Devin, who recently took his 9-year-old son, Troy, for a "tough" close-cropped haircut at Kutter's in preparation for an upcoming wrestling match.

Carpegna keeps a tub of lollipops nearby for her patrons. She also has sponsored a customer's race car, and has been known to keep a hand-held electronic slot machine in action for her clients, including Don Hoffman.

For Carpegna and her co-workers, barbering involves more than cutting hair.

"We do a lot of cutting up and carrying on. It's a fun environment," she said. "And you do get very close to your customers."

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