The charm of vintage industrial at Cincinnati’s Elm & Iron OTR

Chad gets ready to move the chalkboard at the new Elm & Iron OTR in Cincinnati.

Chad gets ready to move the chalkboard at the new Elm & Iron OTR in Cincinnati.

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.

A deliberate mix of metal, ceramic, and vintage pieces stand next to an aged brick wall in Elm & Iron OTR in Cincinnati

A deliberate mix of metal, ceramic, and vintage pieces stand next to an aged brick wall in Elm & Iron OTR in Cincinnati

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.

Creative vignettes of vintage pieces draw you in for a closer look at Elm & Iron OTR.

Creative vignettes of vintage pieces draw you in for a closer look at Elm & Iron OTR.

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.

Vintage 1960 Morris Minor greets you as you enter Elm & Iron OTR. Want to take a test drive?

Vintage 1960 Morris Minor greets you as you enter Elm & Iron OTR. Want to take a test drive?

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.

Pleasant check-out area with wall map decor and vintage counter at Elm & Iron OTR.

Pleasant check-out area with wall map decor and vintage counter 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.

Could some of these vintage gloves have belonged to budding Reds fans?

Could these have belonged to budding Reds fans? Well, maybe!

For more information:

Elm & Iron OTR, 1326 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH; (513) 954-4217; Facebook: Elm & Iron OTR

Featured on Monday Escapes #18 at My Travel Monkey.  For more entries, click here.  

 

About Oh, the Places We See

Met at University of Tennessee, been married for 47 years, and still passionate about travel whether we're volunteering with Habitat Global Village, combining work at Discovery with pleasure, or just seeing the world. Hope you'll join us as we try to see it all while we can!
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8 Responses to The charm of vintage industrial at Cincinnati’s Elm & Iron OTR

  1. This place is awesome! I never heard of it before.
    I looove vintage things and I certainly would love to go there someday!
    Were things too expensive?

    Thank you for joining #MondayEscapes

    • Prices were just what I thought they would be for a big city, downtown vintage store. You can find bargains at estate sales, etc., but you have to go to so many places. You’re paying for their “finds” and many times, that’s worth the charge. Some items were new, manufactured to look old. Didn’t matter to me. It was all good! Thanks for taking a look.

  2. Pit says:

    Now that’s a place I need to go should I ever manage to make it up there.
    Have a wonderful time,
    Pit

  3. Wow, a wonderfully eclectic place!

  4. Touring NH says:

    What a collection. Vintage and re-purposed items certainly have taken on a life of their own in the last few years.

    • Thanks for taking a look at this shop. We love all that they had for sale, but we were truly enthralled with the displays. You’re right about the popularity of vintage goods. We’re seeing this trend in magazines and shops in other cities. And I love it!

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