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Pale Horse rides into Ironton

IRONTON — It’s Thursday afternoon and pedestrians walking along South Third Street have been stopping in front of Danielle Kouns window display to get a better look.

They peer in — both hands cupped over their eyes — squinting for a clearer view of two summer dresses fitted perfectly onto mannequins. They then point at a pair of boots sitting near the front of the display just waiting for a buyer.

Each piece gets the prospective shoppers smiling and talking about years past. In fact since Kouns vintage clothing store, The Pale Horse, opened last week, reminiscing has become commonplace at downtown Ironton’s newest business.

Whether it’s the shoes, dresses or variety of accessories, each article of clothing is a conversation piece in itself. Actually, Kouns’ entire store is a conversation piece and a hotbed for fashion’s latest craze — vintage clothing.

By opening in Ironton, The Pale Horse has taken a hobby and passion Kouns has had for most of her life and puts it on display and its clothing collection for sale.

“I’m overly obsessed with vintage clothing,” said Kouns, who moved to Ironton from Jacksonville, Fla. in 2007. “I like the idea that these clothes will serve another life and not be thrown away.”

She said her reason for bringing a vintage clothing store to Ironton was her perception of the lack of good thrift stores in the Tri-State.

Kouns said she hopes to contribute some of the vintage fashion she learned by living in Jacksonville and Brooklyn, N.Y. to Ironton — a community she thinks would embrace her passion.

Walking into The Pale Horse — named on behalf of the personal lifelong dream Kouns had in opening her own vintage clothing store — is like taking a step back in time. She even has a “decorative” pale horse sculpture greeting customers when they enter.

In what used to be the lobby for the old Marlowe Theatre in a previous life, shoppers walking into The Pale Horse find themselves in a cozy haven for vintage clothing from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

Adding to the ambience of the place is a selection of more than 200 vintage vinyl albums that shoppers can choose from to put on the store’s record player. Shoppers can also relax on the most comfortable 1970’s vintage “pleather” couch imaginable.

The Pale Horse sells recycled and re-used vintage clothing, from ladies shirts dresses, shoes and skirts to men’s pants and shirts. Kouns said the word “vintage” might mean different things to different people, but for her it means from the 1980’s and earlier.

Kouns said the hot items right now include 1980’s color prints and the “Mad Men” television show look including skinny ties. Big sunglasses are still in.

“I look for quality in the items I purchase and try not follow trends,” Kouns said.

Her inventory comes from thrift shops across the east coast and estate sales, along with purchasing select pieces on e-Bay. Several items are made by Kouns herself including a snazzy collection of “wristlet” purses, hand-knitted neck warmers and nearly all the jewelry on the walls.

Support for Kouns’ dream has been widespread including help by both Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship and Economic Development Director Bill Dickens.

“I’m really excited to be part of the community and to have the Ro-Na theatre restoration right down the street from the store,” Kouns said.

Once Kouns gets things rolling, shoppers in the future can expect a selection of hot teas and coffee when they arrive along with the store’s ability to make alterations on site.

She also is interested in contracting other Tri-State area products and music in the store to add to its local flair.

But for now, the thought of living her dream has Kouns excited about the possibilities.

“That’s the beauty of vintage clothing. It’s very diverse and still can serve a purpose.”

The Pale Horse is located at 208 S. Third St. in Ironton. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Mondays.

The store can be found on MySpace at www.myspace.com/palehorsevintage.