Maybe things are just a little bit too tidy at Hanna's One Good Eye Antiques in Fells Point. Because sometimes, when people first walk in, they'll apologize and start to back out again.
"People walk in, and because everything's arranged like it would be in a room, they feel like they're intruding on our home," says Michael Smith, who, with his brother, David, owns the new shop.
"They'll say, 'Oh, I'm sorry. Do you mind?' And I say, that's what we're here for -- for people to come in."
Actually those people who think they've walked into Michael and David Smith's house aren't far wrong because the two brothers actually live above the shop. And they ended up going into the antiques business last year because they were looking for a place to live.
"We went to an auction looking for a home -- with no thought of getting into antiques or any of that. So after they sold the house to someone else, we started to walk away and they said they were going to auction off the entire contents of the house. So we walked back and ended up getting the entire contents of the house for $500 and thought, 'Wow, maybe we've got something here.' "
The brothers had some experience with antiques. They had once bought antiques for their mother, who was a part-time antiques dealer in Rhode Island. And both have studied art.
They had been wanting to try to find a business in which they could work together. So when they found the storefront in Fells Point, everything seemed to fit. It took them three months of painting and scraping linoleum off the wooden floors before they opened last winter.
They specialize in period and country antiques including primitive furniture, plus collectibles, black memorabilia and folk art.
In the shop they have fish decoys, a spoon rack with mortar and pestle from the 1700s, an iron brush stand from the 1600s, an oak desk and case with cubbyholes from an old post office in upstate New York, old advertising signs including Elsie the Cow, a Mission bookcase with glass doors, a Baltimore newspaper from 1795, a grain scale, a large cast-iron pot, cigar molds, Indian arrowheads from near the Susquehanna River, oyster cans, a pie safe from Pennsylvania, an ornate trunk from the 1880s, a small Victorian wicker rocker and a Super Flyer sled from the '30s.
On one wall, they have a large piece of architectural molding which looks to have been taken from the peak of a Victorian house. They sell other large items, such as larger pieces of
furniture and architectural antiques, through an antique co-op, the Antique Guild of Fells Point on Eastern Avenue. And they sell some things on layaway.
Michael tries to make the rounds of the two dozen other antiques shops in Fells Point so he can act as a reference for his customers.
The store is named for their mother, whose name is actually Marsha and who has two good eyes. It's based on a story their stepfather tells of the first moment he saw her coming up out of the water in a whirlpool bath with her hair covering one side of her face.
"For some reason my stepfather always calls her Hanna, and he says, 'Hanna, with her one good eye, looked at me and captured my heart forever,' " says Michael. "So when we were trying to think up a name for the store, we'd just heard him tell the story again to someone else and we thought, 'Hanna's one good eye, that'd be good. Hanna's One Good Eye Antiques.' "
The shop is located at 1641 Fleet St., near the H&S Bakery. "For truckers, this is I-95 right here," says David, "especially at 4 o'clock in the morning. You either get up with the trucks or you try to throw a pillow over your head and pretend there's nothing around you. But it doesn't work because you suffocate yourself and have to get up no matter what."
"They'll come barreling down the street and all of a sudden the light will turn red for them and they'll put on their brakes and the whole house shakes," adds Michael. "And you know, being originally from California, the first thing you think is earthquake. So you jump out of bed and then you realize, 'Uh-oh, it's just a truck outside.' "
The hours at Hanna's One Good Eye are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays. The telephone number is 732-2615.