First Impressions: Iron Horse Apparel

They say to make that first one the best. We know that initial encounter can be the most lasting.

By JD Gore and Jody

  It was at the ABATE Swap Meet in Monroe, WA that Jody and I first met Jay and Sharon Doan, owners of Iron Horse Apparel. And just before making their acquaintance we were checking out a great line of riding boots stretched out on a top shelf.  And what first caught Jody’s eye was the word “sale” above a rack of women’s tops.  To say the least, that Iron Horse Apparel booth at the ABATE Swap Meet was on our radar.

  Talking with Jay and Sharon, they shared, “We used to conduct all our business at swap meets. But now we have an actual store on Bucoda Highway, between Tenino and Centralia. It was about 2,500 sq.ft. and we had studied the traffic for over a year before deciding to make it permanent.”

  Jody and I purchased a few items before I squirreled on some shiny bike parts. A few months later, on a trip up to Lacey, WA. Jody and I decided to check out the Iron Horse Apparel store, so we dropped in. Like the proverbial kid in a candy store, we were amazed at all Jay and Sharon had. Their booth at the swap meet hadn’t done them justice.

  Inside the main store, they have the most affordable motorcycle clothing you will ever find. They had new and like new Harley-Davidson t-shirts from as far away as South Africa. If you’re a collector, you’ll be in love with the choices of T’s. As for household and personal items for motorcycle enthusiasts, not only is the selection head-spinning but the prices are jaw dropping low.

  Everything in the main store was arranged perfectly, from an array of helmets to the cool art covering the walls. Nothing was overlooked. It felt homey, friendly and the comfort and ease to browse made time nonexistent.

   Jay, Sharon and Jay’s brother Rick said Hello, but we almost didn’t notice them at first, as we were quickly soaking in the essence of this first visit.  I walked over to Jay and shook hands and asked to be shown around as Jody went straight to the apparel racks and shelves.

  Jay and I walked to the store next door, on our way Jay pointed out a large trailer that is used when they go to events. We walked through one end and out the other, that alone was impressive with what and how they organized the interior including the dressing room.

  We walked out of the mobile store, as I call it, into the store that attached to the main store Jody and Sharon were in. Inside the second store were bike parts and accessories. Windshields and mounts, gas tanks, intake covers, and the list kept growing. If you are looking for a part, you need to check here. Don’t be fooled by the name of Iron Horse Apparel, Jay and Sharon have much more to offer than just clothing.

  Jody met up with us as we stood out front. Jay shared their plans and ideas. “Right over there we are going to build a small stage for live music, and in time we will build an area for food and drinks, here.” As we followed Jay around back to an old western looking town scene. Wow, their ambitions and ideas seemed to be impressive and well thought out.

  A couple months later, Jody and I returned for the first anniversary of the Iron Horse Apparel store.  Jay and Sharon’s store was also a stop on a poker ride that day. With the band Strike 9 playing some great Pink Floyd and bikers lined up for their cards, it looked like IHA had made progress on those ambitions and ideas.

  There were a handful of cages parked to the side of the storefront, and there was plenty of room for the close to 100 bikes parked under the IHA sign. The mobile store was open for biz, and tables and chairs were in front of the stage. Everyone was enjoying themselves on this sunny, great bike riding weather day.

  Strike 9 was having a great time, rocking out classic tunes for all the listeners. I found Rick behind the counter taking care of customers as Jay and Sharon were being great hosts. Jody and I walked around, admiring the bikes, watching the riders and getting the true sense of the event.

  As the poker ride group had all received their cards and finished shopping, they headed out to their next stop.  As they pulled out and the thunder of pipes died down, the “Dark Side of the Moon” was all I could hear. And as we walked over towards the band a handful of new riders came in, not part of the poker ride. Some of them left after a bit and no sooner did more show up. This seems to be a routine. People on bikes or in cars were coming and going. It seemed to be a steady stream.. not overwhelming numbers like the poker ride group but just a continuous flow.

  Strike 9 took a break and as things quieted, the flow of patrons didn’t. If the bikers riding by didn’t stop, they waved. Everyone passing by knows of IHA and if they don’t stop they pay respect. Like the two finger wave bikers give each other, even to unknown riders, there is a biker code. That respect seems to be given to Jay and Sharon for what they have done on this two lane highway.  Jody and I walked out with a couple bags with shirts and items to decorate our house and after we put them away for the ride home, we went back to sit on the porch. Wanting to enjoy the atmosphere here at IHA, more bikes pulled up and the band played on.

  Jay and Sharon with the help of Rick, make Iron Horse Apparel work. I can’t say if it’s the great prices or the tremendous selection of motorcycle items. But I can’t stop thinking that the first impression they gave to the community has not been forgotten. And in our impression, Jay and Sharon just keep giving us new firsts, with each new successful ambition and idea they reach.

  If you are in the area, you owe it to yourself to stop in at Iron Horse Apparel, located at 18419 Bucoda Highway SE, Tenino, WA. (They’re open Thursday through Monday.) Also follow them at Iron Horse Apparel on FB. If you have questions, contact them at 253-457-9513.