Merc finds balance between cowboy, biker gear

<I>Kathleen Ellyn/Chieftain</I><BR>Denny and Diana Day pose near a display of Diana's custom design bone and buffalo horn belts. The Joseph couple have opened their store on Main Street in Joseph Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Inside the tiny Iron Horse Mercantile on Main Street in Joseph, a combination of Industrial and Western Décor combine and support displays of handcrafted belts, hat bands, and purses, along with riding gear and home décor for both cowboy and motorcycle worlds. It is not so strange a combination, owners Denny and Diana Day have found. Many of the folks who ride horses in Wallowa County also enjoy motorcycles, Denny observed. Moreover, both cowboys and motorcycle riders enjoy Diana's custom made belts and goods.

"Biker wear and western wear really compliment each other, so we went both directions in our business," said Denny. The business, located next to Joseph Hardware, held its grand opening May 5.

The Days purchased a house in Joseph and have been planning their business move more than two years ago, they said. Both of their children are grown and gone, and the couple journeyed to Joseph every month planning their permanent transfer. They talked to other business owners in Joseph and got "the skinny" on the seasonal nature of business, they tested Diana's Daydreamer Creations business in a booth at the last Bronze Bike Rendezvous, they selected the clothing lines from which they would custom order (Hot Leathers Gear and Iron Cowgirl gear), and they watched for just the right storefront. Diana's line of bone and buffalo horn belts, bootstraps and hatbands, sold well to both bikers and cowboys. "I can design anything around a piece, like a buckle or decoration, they like," Diana said. "That way people get something very special, something they've designed themselves."

"A lot of local people ride bikes," Denny said. "During the nice days, folks are just up and down the streets on their bikes."

The couple rides Harley Davidson bikes and have toured much of Oregon and Washington.

While conducting their investigations, Denny continued his 25-year career selling building supplies in Bend. Diana, for her part, was an office administrator for Bend Memorial Clinic.

Then, when the little shop on the Main Street came open, they jumped. Now the little store is open regularly, Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those hours will expand after Memorial Day to Tuesday through Sunday.

So far, the Days say, response has been great. They're working with Terry DeSpain to have a line of goods that compliments his 2009 Bronze Bike Rendezvous, they're advertising their shop (and Wallowa County) in regional motorcycle magazines, their web presence ( remains strong, and more and more locals are finding the shop.

Business has been very good this first week," Denny said. "We expect to do well. Motorcyclists spend a tremendous amount of money. They're riding $25,000 bikes - and Wallowa County is a destination for motorcyclists."

In fact, the Days said, a local Bed and Breakfast has informed them that a group of motorcyclists from Colorado has booked recently. It will only get better, the Days say. Just look around you.

"Wallowa County is beautiful," Diana said. "People want to come see it."

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