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‘Tattooed Lady’ sells area on unique antiques

During the 19th century, when the circus came to town, people would pay a dime to see oddities and mysteries in the world, like a two-headed bull.

When Jillian Kelly was growing up, the dime museums were a dollar then. Her dad would take her to see the oddities. Her mind was in awe. Fast-forward to now, and Kelly owns her own oddity museum known as Retro-tique.

Kelly started out working for Dan Kocan. He was a recently divorced man who took over his ex-wife’s small lingerie shop known as Dahlia’s. Kocan turned to Kelly, in desperate need of knowledge on running a lingerie store.

Kelly said that once she brought her retail skills to the table at Dan’s shop, sales started going up exponentially. With Kocan’s communication skills and Kelly’s retail skills, they made a “really good team.” 

One day, Kelly mentioned the idea of an antique shop, when she noticed that Kocan started to bring in contrasting items to the store: antiques. Soon after, Kocan proposed that him and Kelly become partners, then a birth of an antique store began.

“This is something that I always said I was going to do and always wanted to do. I never really knew what I really wanted to do with my life career-wise, I kind of wanted to do a bunch of different stuff…but I always said someday I’d probably open a store,” Kelly said.

Kocan said being able to work with Kelly was a rare experience that he had the opportunity to embark in.

“When you bring art, music and retro together in one place I feel that this place fulfills me like nothing else can. Then to work with Jillian Kelly and Morgantown takes me to a level in life few people ever find,” Kocan said.

Retro-tique sells a plethora of antiques: clothes, books, vinyl’s, 8-track tapes and toys. One item that she least expected to see be their biggest hit was vinyl’s. 

“People started flipping out over records. It became our biggest seller – we became a record store after that because people just lost their minds,” Kelly said. “I never would have saw myself having a record store.”

Customers like Holly Greene and Nic Fledderus both enjoy flipping through records when they stop by the store. Since it has been seven months since their expansion, their store has been able to stock more “stuff” as well as showcase local artists.

Ashley Anderson, owner/artisan of Black Sheep Jewelry, said that when she moved to Morgantown, Retro-tique was the first small business to catch her eye. 

“It was a huge honor to be asked to bring my jewelry into Retro-tique. It’s a really well-known store and it attracts the quirky, artsy type of people that I relate to,” Anderson said. “Most people go into Retro-tique knowing they’re going to be looking at a lot of one-of-a-kind things and in a world where so much is mass produced, that’s a great thing to be part of. It’s a perfect fit for Black Sheep Jewelry.”

Kelly was also able to utilize the space for more activities with a larger crowd, including live music and regularly scheduled events like poetry night every second Saturday of each month.

Blake Campbell, manager of Retro-tique and vice president of Morgantown Art Party, said Kelly and he met several years ago at previous employment.

Campbell said when he first started working at Retro-tique, he had a lot of learning to do, one being how to use a record player.

“I never used a turntable ever until working here,” he said. “Even something as simple as looking at on the price of something will take you down this entire tangent of learning a bit of history that you didn’t know.”

Now that Campbell has been at Retro-tique and working alongside of Kelly for an amount of years, they have grown a unique relationship.

“We’re in tune with each other to where we don’t even have to use full words to really understand what we’re talking about,” Campbell said.

Retro-tique. It is a unique store on Walnut Street, in Morgantown, WV. The items in the store are much like a dime museum: mysterious and fascinating. In Retro-tique, it is organized chaos, but that is the way Kelly likes it.