One family, two businesses, a shared goal

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Business to business: Chiropractor James and his wife, hair salon owner Shannon, maintain a busy schedule with their children, James, 7, and Kathryn, 13.  Business to business: Chiropractor James and his wife, hair salon owner Shannon, maintain a busy schedule with their children, James, 7, and Kathryn, 13.

Couple has invested a collective half-century in county

UPPER TOWNSHIP – Dr. James O’Rourke found his chosen profession as a chiropractor literally by accident.

As a high school wrestler, O’Rourke sustained an injury that did not respond to medication or therapy, but improved after a chiropractic adjustment. The dramatic results sparked an interest in the treatments that led to a career.

On Feb. 9, O’Rourke’s business, Ocean View Chiropractic, celebrates its 20th year in Cape May County.

His wife, Shannon O’Rourke, was practically born into her family’s business. In 1957, her grandmother, Sue Pessalano, opened Kathy’s Hairport in Sea Isle City. The shop later passed to Shannon’s mother, Kathy, for whom it was named. Shannon bought it in 2008, after working there as a stylist for 27 years.

The extended family has been in business in the area for a collective 50 years, enduring despite the recession and trends that took American consumers away from hometown stores and practitioners to chain stores, big-box enterprise and online industry.

“Of course we’ve updated the businesses, but it speaks volumes, especially in this economy, to actually survive,” said Shannon. “I try to buy local and we’re grateful other people have supported us.”

While she credits customer loyalty first and foremost – some of her clients come from as far away as Pennsylvania – O’Rourke also acknowledges the hard work and innovation it takes to stay competitive, no matter what the business. Kathy’s Hairport has added an organic line of hair, skin and body products; Ocean View Chiropractic has added nutritional supplements and a massage therapist, and may soon offer cosmetic treatments such as Botox and dermal fillers.

Ultimately, the couple would like to combine the businesses into an all-purpose wellness and beauty center.

“We have a vision of having one space, with chiropractic, massage and nutritional counseling on one side and the hair salon on the other,” said Shannon. “Baby boomers want to be healthier and look great and God willing, I’m ready to do it when the economy picks up.”

The current chiropractic center could be the ideal location, said James.

“There’s a karate studio and dance studio nearby, and Miracles Fitness – it just flows.”

With two kids at home – Kathryn, 13, a student at Upper Township Middle School, and James, 7, who goes to Bishop McHugh – “It’s a juggling act, really,” said Shannon. “I really don’t know if we could do it without each other.”

There is a downside to having two businesses in the family though.

“We tend to talk about business at home,” she said. “You can’t get away from it.”

“They never leave work,” daughter Kathryn said of her parents. But their entrepreneurial drive obviously has been passed to yet another generation. Asked what she wants to do when she grows up, Kathryn responded, “I want my own dentist’s office. I’m going to be an orthodontist.”

Kathy’s Hairport is located at 3918 Landis Ave., Sea Isle City. For more information call 263-8805 or see Ocean View Chiropractic is located at 94 Route 50 in Ocean View. For more information, call 545-0445 or see


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