Back Home in Shiremanstown, Bringing Halo Along
Kelly Deardorff was six when her family moved to Shiremanstown—the “best years of my life” growing up in “the most wonderful spot on Earth.” At 38, she’s front and center to the borough’s revitalization movement owning a home and a new business at 17 E. Main—Halo Hair Design. With hubby Anthony Palumbo, they head revitalization’s Business Development and Recruitment group.
She only has to look back to appreciate Shiremanstown’s potential. She walked to Shiremanstown Elementary School and recalls that first day taking a bus as “traumatic.” It was fun when the Revitalization Committee held one of their meetings at the old school—now River Rock Academy. Downtown has changed a lot—gone is the fireman’s carnival, the pharmacy at Railroad and Main (Stoyer’s, Daniel’s) where kids’d make a trip to consider candies to buy, and Tom’s Place where WWII is now—popular for “eat in” and “take out” food…then, somewhat a novelty. Gone is the grocery on Main and the bank which now houses, in a strange twist of fate, a collection agency. Kelly Palumbo would tell you that while much has changed, Shiremanstown is still a great place to live, work and raise a family. That’s why she chose to come full circle and return to her roots (there’s a hairstyling joke in there somewhere).
A 1989 graduate of Mechanicsburg High School, she’d had her eye on The Pump House—that cute little bungalow of a business formerly a caterer, barber, CB repair shop, restaurant and originally, we think, the J.G. Liggett Harness Maker’s hut (at least that’s what an 1880 photo in her shop implies). Then one night online, there it was—an ad for the place. She discussed it with Anthony, considered the economy, “reflected on what the coming presidential election might bring,” then made an offer—on Christmas Eve. After an exhausting (but great) holiday business sprint, it was her gift to herself. “It’s a great first place—a great starter place,” but insists she’ll never leave. “This is it.”
Since early 2009, the Palumbos have spent countless hours readying Halo moving the business from Lower Allen to Shiremanstown. Neighbor Lucy Getz says Palumbo is a planner, concerned with each and every detail of the transformation—and it shows in how she’s rendered the shop so welcoming inside and out. You walk in and leave your cares at the door—it’s that comforting.
Built in three phases, the front or original Pump House is a reception and retail area. The middle dates to the early 1900s. It’s where you start your styling journey with a shampoo or other services. Then, off to the sunny back room circa 2001 for cuts, styling, the works. She kept her customers in mind too—six added parking spaces behind and a building that’s ADA-accessible.
She plans to turn the front into a boutique of sorts with eco-friendly and organic lines—hair, styling, beauty and skin products. Also recycled jewelry, eco soy candles (which you experience while there), accessories like wallets, handbags and totes and small home décor items. There’s the wildly popular organic candy—sounds weird, taste GREAT!—and beautifully crafted products from Shiremanstown’s Colonial Yarn Shop…scarves, hats, gloves.
Since her diagnosis and successful treatment of thyroid cancer when she was in her late 20s, and experiences with several friends with cancer, she is more concerned about the environment and contaminants—focused on healthier living and using natural, organic, products whenever possible which she has transitioned into the workplace. “It’s important to us as a business and as a family.”
She’s passionate about recycling and hopes to offer a recycling area for CFLs and other products. “Halo recycles everything—foil, bottles, bags, magazines, everything!” She’d like to couple her business interest with her commitment to recycling—like $1 off your bill if you recycle a bulb. “If a customer visits every four weeks and recycles a product each time, that’s a big improvement if they’d normally throw it away.” It’s her way of saving the earth, or at least Shiremanstown, a step at a time.
Business at the new Halo has been good; she’s already added staff. She views revitalization as quite doable and feels Shiremanstown is perfectly situated—“five minutes from everywhere, the location is amazing!” “Much about revitalization is assisting, supporting, other businesses…making connections.” She talks up the yarn shop letting people know top-quality businesses are here. She’s rented space from Harry Fetrow—space she learned about at a revitalization meeting both attended. “Revitalization can mean more businesses and more for every business. New business will benefit all of the businesses…we can help each other.”
You’ll recognize her last name as that of the well-known restaurateurs, in fact husband Anthony grew up in the biz and the family owns Palumbo’s Italian Eatery, Harrisburg. With their collective experience, one has to ask—are they looking at other Shiremanstown opportunities? “We’re always looking!” She’d love a place like Diener’s and promises “I’m ready to get going with other ideas, other businesses.”
With Halo, she’s settling in a little—well sort of. She doesn’t seem the type to every really rest. But she is comfortable, delighted to be back home in Shiremanstown and anxious to make the most of revitalization. For her, it all started with a little dream and digging in. “People don’t realize how hard it is to start and grow a business—what it takes.” She’s confident that the borough, the community at large and businesses all working together will make it easier, and better, for those who follow. And on a personal note, she’s really just getting warmed up!