Cincinnati’s old-but-now-new Over the Rhine section has quite enough going for it to warrant a visit by any tourist or city resident. In fact, it’s almost pretty in an urban sort of way with freshly painted, architecturally rich buildings and edgy businesses springing up in tiny spaces, spilling out onto sidewalks where musicians entertain passersby day or night. But one new business got our attention just from the creative displays in the front window, luring us in for a closer look: Elm & Iron OTR.
Open only four months, Cincinnati’s Elm & Iron OTR is a branch of the original Elm & Iron in Columbus that owner Dan McClurg established a mere two years ago. According to an employee who spoke to me by phone after our visit, McClurg had been shopping extensively for an eclectic mix of industrial/vintage/urban pieces for his own home outside Columbus, Ohio, when he decided he may have stumbled upon something that would appeal to others. And he was right.
Lofts in Over the Rhine (and other parts of the city) may hold the now-discovered vintage stools with leather seats, rusty bicycles, metal cans, and funky monkeys McClurg stocks in his stores. Add to the mix the art of creative store designer Alethea Yeisley who arranges/poses/stacks McClurg’s finds to form interesting vignettes and the positive energy of store manager Hart Neely, and you have a hit in Cincinnati.
When you first enter the door, a 1960 Morris Minor greets you, inviting you to smile reminiscently if you’re old like us or marvel at this relic if you’re young as we imagine most of the paying customers at Elm & Iron OTR probably are.
But even if you don’t buy a thing, you can’t help but be fascinated at the collected whimsy everywhere. Take a look.
I wondered what sold best. Was it wall maps that would look chic on exposed brick walls of an urban loft? Metal letters? Bentwood chairs? Cincy memorabilia? No, it’s candles in repurposed wine bottles from a company called Rewined candles. So, maybe a mix of old and new, vintage and created-to-look-vintage, and urban, sort-of-citified stuff sells well at Elm & Iron OTR.
Whatever it is you find to love about this store — creative displays, interesting found objects, or purchased new-to-look-old goods that Dan McClurg snarfs up on his shopping sprees — you’re sure to remember this special place in Cincinnati. We sure do.
For more information:
Elm & Iron OTR, 1326 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH; (513) 954-4217; Facebook: Elm & Iron OTR