Three Penny Mercantile

Dana Nelson can't say what piece of clothing Ashlanders want most, but she probably has it.

Nelson opened Three Penny Mercantile, a vintage second-hand clothing and miscellaneous shop on the corner of Pioneer and East Main streets Feb. 3, and her line of inventory has been changing ever since.

"My style changes, like, every single day," said Nelson, 34, "The hardest part is trying to figure out what Ashland wants."

Nelson manages the shop with her ex-husband, and has six part-time employees, she said.

"I have total addiction to vintage clothes "… and finding great deals," said Nelson. "I've been doing this since eighth grade. We're not snooty — I'm not trying to get rich. I'm just trying to have fun, pay my bills, and sell a few things. We just want people to get a good deal."

Three Penny Mercantile buys, sells and trades all varieties of clothing, hard-to-find trinkets and other unique toys, said Nelson, no consignments.

"And I want to barter, I love to barter "… it gets your blood pumping," Nelson said. "Come in whenever, unless you have a lot of stuff, call ahead. I only buy what I know other people want."

The doors are open seven days a week at Three Penny, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

"I want this store to be for the people who live here," Nelson said.

Since she opened, people seem to be going for wool-knit Pendleton shirts, " '80s everything," red leather jackets, suits and vests and blazers, ties, good hats and "weird stuff," said Nelson.

"The vintage clothes are going quick," she said.

Nelson, who moved to Ashland from Livingston, Mont., last Fourth of July, said she encourages locals who handcraft sustainable, unique items and "anything cool" to approach her as a buyer.

"We're a mercantile "… anything goes," she said.

Most of what's circulating through Three Penny's shelves comes from websites such as Etsy, Ebay, and Craigslist, she said, and a large bulk of it from car tours of portions of the Western U.S.

"Wyoming is the best place for cowboy stuff," she said. "I haven't even started going south yet, into California. You know there's stuff down there."

Housed in the Ganiard Opera House constructed in 1890, Nelson said she named the store after "The Threepenny Opera," produced in 1928 by left-leaning Germans Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht, who were exiled by Hitler five years after its opening.

Nelson, who was the sole proprietor of a mortgage company in Livingston, said she only visited Ashland once, last May for a day, and she felt at home.

"I love Ashland, the weather and the business. "… I'm not going anywhere."

Reach Reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email

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