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Unique Retrotique

Downtown store specializes in pop culture items

When one walks into Retro-tique, on Walnut Street, it’s easy to experience a bit of visual overload at first.

On the walls are antique beer signs, old vinyl albums, portraits of people from the past, landscapes of days gone by.

Hanging from racks are clothes from all sorts of eras — dresses, bowling shirts, furs and coats.
Filling the drawers of  antique dressers are men’s ties, scarves, dress gloves and more.
There are beaded purses, fancy hats and vintage T-shirts.

Toys and other pop culture items line shelf upon shelf — WWF wrestling figures, Good Luck Trolls, ALF paraphernalia, collectible E.T. glasses, carnival glass, a Nintendo 64 game console, a few ventriloquist’s dummies, and some King Kong stuff.

Mosey to the back of the store and you’ll see cases full of oddities — a shrunken head, a pair of prosthetic legs, some glass eyes, several monkey skulls, and even a taxidermied alligator head with a series of detached plastic babydoll heads nestled in its open mouth.

In other words, there’s a little something for almost everyone.

That’s exactly what co-owners Dan Kocan and Jillian Kelly were going for when they opened it.

The two met next door, at Kocan’s lingerie store, Dahlia’s, where Kelly was an employee. One day, she said, the two got to talking, and she mentioned that she had always longed for a store of her own — particularly one filled with interesting, funky items.

Conveniently, the space next door to Dahlia’s had just recently become available.

“The next day, we were in business together,” she said.

The goal, they said, was to stock the space with treasures one can’t find the likes of anywhere else in Morgantown.

True vintage clothing (“not Goodwill-type stuff”), games, oddities and collectibles. The pair scours shops and auctions up and down the East Coast to find unique things — things, Kocan said, that are in good to excellent condition.

“I don’t like the clothing to be dirty or have stains,” he said.

Dubbing themselves the flip- phone and the smartphone — a play on their age difference — the pair blend  their tastes smoothly and easily. Kelly mainly digs the toys and the oddities, while Kocan is always on the lookout for special clothing items and housewares.

It’s a mix that regular customer Eleanor Green finds fun and appealing. She first visited the store after driving past its  storefront on her way home from work, she said.

“It was so eye-catching that I immediately went around the block and came in,” she said during a recent browsing session at the boutique. “I wasn’t disappointed. And I dropped some serious money on my first visit.”

Her favorites, she said, are the furniture and the kitchen gadgets.

So far, she’s gone home with a gaming table, a wooden cutlery caddie and a whole set of vintage McCormick spices tins — with the spices still in them — just to name a few things.

She said she thinks the appeal of Retro-tique is the nostalgia is brings.

The items “make us think of those people who may be gone, or those times,” she said. “Evocative — I think that’s a really good word for what this store does to you.”

The variety of fun items  to look through doesn’t hurt, either.

“There’s a lot of stuff in here,” she said, looking around. “The more you look, the more you see.”

Kelly and Kocan said that while the clothing and albums are popular, it’s the oddities and the vintage toys that seem to bring people back over and over.
“People love them,” Kocan said.