Scharon Black Eagle stationer closing its doors Owner cites economy, competition CENTRAL -- Union Mills * Westminster * Sandymount * Finksburg

June 08, 1993|By Staff Report

After 27 years of offering birthday cards, thank-you notes, stationery and gift items to local residents, Scharon Black Eagle, a card and gift shop in the Westminster Shopping Center, is closing its doors.

Mike Scharon, owner of the family business for 17 years, cited the failing economy and competition from larger stores as his reasons for going out of business.

Mr. Scharon, 43, bought the store from his parents, Betty and Lou Scharon, in 1976, a decade after it opened.

Besides selling gift items and greeting cards, the store was one of the first small shops in the county to sell tickets to local theater productions, concerts and fairs.

Tickets were introduced to the store when Lou Scharon owned it.

At the time, he was a member of the New Windsor Players, an amateur theater group that is now the Carroll County Players. He sold tickets for their productions in his store, word spread, and soon people were approaching him to sell tickets for all kinds of events.

The shop became a local entertainment ticket information agency.

"It was probably the first store to sell tickets on a regular continuing basis. People started to call me and ask, 'What's going on tonight?' " said Lou Scharon, a former county commissioner.

The store has changed and grown through the years and under his son's management, Lou Scharon said. The store originally specialized in Early American gifts and cards.

"My wife and I were always interested in Early American items," Lou Scharon said. So they started their own gift shop.

He remembers that some of the most popular items he sold were the 75-cent "3-by-3" -- a fat, 3-inch-tall, 3-inch-wide scented candle that now costs $2.75 -- Early American iron items and calendar towels.

Once upon a time, the store offered history and art books. "But the books didn't bring in money . . . and you have to pay the rent," he said. So the books were replaced by party favors.

Another change was expansion. Lou Scharon said the store was expanded in 1970. It used to have two large showcase windows to display antique pine furniture, which was ordered from an outlet.

According to Lou Scharon, the furniture sold so quickly that he had to change displays regularly. But the windows were later torn out and the store was expanded all the way to the sidewalk.

The store stopped selling furniture because of the expansion, and the Early American theme slowly faded when Mike Scharon took over.

"Mike expressed an interest in getting into the business," his father said. "He worked for us for a year before buying it. My wife and I just wanted to make sure that he knew what the business was all about.

"My wife worked with him for some time. A lot of people are not aware of the business skills needed to run what some would call a simple card and gift shop. But it was a lot of work, and a lot of hours, but it was a pleasure."

Lou Scharon now works as a Long and Foster real estate agent, and is a past president of the Carroll County Realtors Association.

Betty Scharon stopped working in the store five years ago and now volunteers for the Carroll County Literacy Council.

"We now have the grandchildren of the people who used to come into the shop stopping by, and that's really nice to see. It really was a pleasure owning the shop," Lou Scharon said.

The store began a going-out-of-business sale Thursday.

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