A Country Heritage
I guess you could say we were born into Country and raised on Antiques. The country home where my sister and I spent our first 18 plus years was located just outside of our small hometown of Doylestown, PA. The partially paved side street that we lived on had just a handful of homes and our house sat beside a wide meadow, a farmer’s fields, and a wooded hillside. Although we lived on just an acre of land our play area extended well beyond. I’m sure it was there that, without our knowing it, we first fell in love with Country.
An appreciation for country life is not something you think about when you’re a child. Only much later when you look back at those years do you realize how blessed you were to have lived that life. Summers were the best! No school, and long days spent playing in the woods building secret forts, or just lying in the grass watching the clouds make shapes. Afternoons were often spent riding bikes down the hilly road by our house – pigtails flying behind us. There was also a homemade tree swing where we could swing so high our feet almost touched the branches, fireflies to capture, kittens to push in baby carriages, and walks in the meadows picking bluebells and Queen Anne’s lace.
In the fall we raked leaves and jumped in the leaf piles. Our neighbor would get a wagon full of apples and we’d help make apple cider on his rustic antique apple press. In the winter we’d drag our American Flyer sleds over the fields and up the wooded hillside for hours of sledding fun. Or we’d go to a local pond for some ice-skating and hot chocolate in a thermos. There were even a few years that we tapped our Maple trees to make homemade syrup. On Sundays we’d go to church and then come home for Sunday Dinner with family or friends, or maybe there would be a pot-luck lunch at church. Sometimes Dad would take us all on a Sunday drive through the backroads of Bucks County.
Of course it wasn’t all play-time! Besides our regular Saturday morning house-cleaning chores there was always plenty of gardening to do – beans, zucchini, blueberries, and tomatoes to pick, flowerbeds to weed and the lawn to mow. Not to mention freezing and canning! Applesauce, peaches, tomatoes, green beans, beets and corn.
Our father grew up on a working farm and when we were children our grandfather still grew acres of sweet corn. Late in the summer there was always a corn-harvesting day. All the aunts, uncles and cousins gathered at the Chittick farm. I can still see my grandpa riding in on his tractor with wagonloads of sweet corn. It was always our job as kids to husk that corn with the men. In the woodshed by the barn there were large washtubs of water – boiling, cool and icy – to blanch the corn. Then the women cut the corn off the cobs, ready for freezing. The best part was the picnic lunch on the farmhouse lawn! There were probably hamburgers or hotdogs, but what I remember are the corn fritters my grandma made, piles of corn on the cob and thick slices of fresh tomato.
Country Store Beginnings
Our grandparents developed an interest in antiques and became avid collectors of antique furniture, glassware, ironstone and other collectibles. They passed this interest to our father who in 1977 decided to open a used furniture and antiques shop in Pipersville, Pa, which he called Piper Second Hand. This was an interesting time for my sister and I, and we have fond memories of rummaging through the house-lot items our dad hauled back to the store, getting up early in the morning to go to flea markets or yard sales with Dad, and listening to Dad tell funny stories at the dinner table about his daily interactions with other antiques dealers or interesting customers. We also learned a little about antiques and developed a love and respect for things of the past.
By the time we were teens my sister and I were both helping out here and there at the store. The business had evolved and was now selling reproduction furniture as well as antiques and country home decor. Our Mom worked full time at the store as well, so it had become a true family business. It wasn’t long before my sister and I were going on furniture deliveries with our Dad, loading furniture into vehicles, creating store displays, and assisting customers.
In time, the name of our business was changed to Piper Classics and the focus of the store also changed. We no longer carried used furniture and antiques, but instead featured country reproduction furniture, country collectibles and country primitive decorating items. The store offered 6 large showrooms filled with country, primitive and farmhouse home decor.
Bucks County, Pa and the surrounding areas abound with history – quaint old inns, rambling farmhouses with antique barns and fieldstone walls, historic landmarks, and charming small towns. Naturally, the people that live here have an appreciation for Historic things, and lean towards country, farmhouse, and primitive decorating for their homes. As the country decorating style flourished, Piper Classics became a much loved destination stop for many.
In 2003, as online shopping was becoming a more popular and convenient way for many consumers to shop, we decided we needed to branch out from our local store and create a website. We are delighted to have many happy customers (who also love country & farmhouse decorating) across the country and even in different parts of the world! Customers were pleased with our website and our excellent selection of country home decor, but they often asked for a catalog. In 2006 we produced the first Piper Classics catalog. We currently produce 2 catalogs every year with supplemental catalogs for the Christmas season. Our website offers over 3,500 country and primitive home decor items.
In 2012 we made the decision to close our retail store in Pipersville, Pa and concentrate our efforts on our online store and catalog. After 35 years of business in our local community, our parents, Dave and Mary Lee Chittick, were ready to move to the next stage of their lives together and now enjoy a well-deserved retirement! They still live in the country and spend a lot of time gardening. They still grow vegetables and blueberries, and Mom still makes applesauce, cans tomatoes, freezes corn and bakes blueberry cobbler. Dad is still a farm-boy at heart and rarely stops moving. We are certain that his favorite moments in life are when he can find a reason to get out his John Deere tractor and put it to use!
My sister and I are fortunate to share a rare but precious blessing. We are not only sisters and close friends, we are also business partners. We live close to each other and to our loving parents, our children feel more like siblings than cousins, we share many fun childhood memories, and we share a deep and abiding love for God, family & friends, American history, and country life.
We know that our customers value these things as well. In fact, there is something about country decorating – primitive country, farmhouse rustic, or vintage country cottage style – that speaks of family, heritage, and a hard-working, but easy-going way of life.
Whether you live in a city, town, subdivision or farmhouse, we welcome you to Piper Classics and hope you will find here, not only pretty things for your home, but also a feeling of family and friendship, and a celebration of all things country!
Janine & Brenda