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Shop's rocks engraved to order

February 10, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

FUNKSTOWN - One might call John and Donna Asher's new business "rocky," but it's not because they are struggling to make a go of it.

"A lot of our business is personalized rocks," said Donna Asher as she tidied up the showroom at Heartstone, at 32 W. Baltimore St. in Funkstown.

Donna Asher, a former flight attendant, and her husband, a retired firefighter turned car salesman, are from Michigan. On their trips back home, they collect the smooth, rounded river rocks that are common in Michigan and bring them back to their new shop.

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John Asher then crafts the stones into engraved works of art.

"Garden stones are a big push for our shop," John Asher said. He showed off one example of his work - a large river rock with the word "Believe" in relief on its surface.

"Believe" is the shop's motto, John Asher said. There even is a heart-shaped stone at Donna Asher's counter that represents the heart of a man, woman and child.

"Our shop's name just evolved from that special stone," Donna Asher said.

The rocks can be crafted into memorials for people and pets, or they can reflect the names of living family members and occupy places of interest in yards and homes, Donna Asher said.

They can be personalized in any way to suit the customer, she said.

Custom framing and matting is another specialty at the shop and is in evidence around the showroom. Comfortable, country-style decorations also are in abundance and for sale in the shop.

Diversity is key, John Asher said, noting that customers can obtain custom hand cultivators at the shop.

Before opening the shop in November, the Ashers lived in Boonsboro. They dabbled in the craft show circuit, but soon decided they wanted to open a permanent shop.

Their research told them that locating in Funkstown would be a good business move since the area already is known for having a lot of craft and antique shops along Baltimore Street.

"This used to be a bookstore," Donna Asher said. "Now our shop is downstairs and we live upstairs."

Even in the short time the Ashers have settled in, they said they have enjoyed the friendly atmosphere in town. No stranger to retail, Donna Asher said she is pleased that the shop already has attracted a lot of out-of-towners.

"We handle brochures for other businesses in the area," said John Asher, who noted that there is a cooperative spirit among town merchants.

Running the shop gives Donna Asher more opportunities to indulge her amateur artist status. "Sewing and painting are my loves. This is great for me," she said.

And John Asher gets to exercise his love of woodworking, as well as his rock-engraving talents.

Both said that as they navigate through their first year with the new business, they probably will add a line of antiques.

"John grew up in a very old house surrounded by antiques," Donna Asher said.

The shop is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, call 301-745-4115.

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