A new antiques and gift shop officially opened Tuesday in downtown Hagerstown.
Chateau La Wren Antiques and Gifts, which opened July 2 at 20 Public Square, held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by city officials, including Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II.
“There’s a lot of vacant buildings in downtown Hagerstown, and I think antique stores and other businesses can change that and make it thrive,” said Patrick Burke, co-owner of the store with his wife, Corina Curtis-Burke. “We could bring a variety of people from different towns into Hagerstown to help revitalize downtown.”
The store’s merchandise includes antiques, country gifts, jewelry, candy and pictures.
Burke, 48, said he and Curtis-Burke, 49, decided to open the business after moving to the area from Arizona in November 2011. The store’s wares include antiques they purchased and some being sold for others.
Burke said the history and culture of Hagerstown make it a prime location for an antiques shop.
“Hagerstown has got a lot of old buildings and a lot of history from the Civil War era,” Burke said. “It’s a hometown cozy feeling and is family-oriented.”
“Everyone knows how difficult in these economic times it is to take a plunge and open up a small business,” Bruchey said. “I had a wish list of things I wanted to see happen, especially on the first block of South Potomac Street, and one of them was an antique mall.”
Bruchey said the business is an important part of revitalizing downtown.
“Being on the square downtown, you have all the exposure that you need,” he said. “This will just be an asset.”
Brien Poffenberger, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, said stores similar to antique shops are what should be filling the vacant buildings in downtown Hagerstown.
“All the department stores, they’re gone, so what is going to fill those first-floor retail shops are boutiques, specialty shops, and restaurants and eateries,” he said. “I’ve already been doing the layaway plan here for my Christmas shopping, so I think it’s going to be here for the long haul.”
Hagerstown resident Anna Devaney said she has a porcelain doll, a gown and an evening bag for sale in the store. She said it is in a great location for the city, and that antique stores are personal to her.
“I like the memories of antique stores,” she said. “You’re not going to find the merchandise in that store in many more places in Hagerstown. The products are very high quality.”
Jennifer Arnn, 31, of Hagerstown, said the store has a wide selection of products and will represent Hagerstown well.
“This is what Hagerstown is about. It’s an old town,” she said. “I like the quality of items there, and I like the feel of older items with a lot of history.”
The store’s hours are Tuesday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday from noon to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.