(Iron Horse’s new location on First Street | Photo courtesy of Iron Horse Second Hand)
Eddie Swisher, founder and owner of Iron Horse Second Hand here in Bend, has been offering hospitality and a personal touch to his service for over 35 years. Many of his customers greet him on a first-name basis, signaling the notion that Swisher has become a very welcome member of the community and business owner since he made the move from Newport to Bend in 1982.
“We went on a family trip to Central Oregon in the early ‘80s and instantly took a liking to the area,” Swisher said. “Initially, I was a little nervous about the competition — more than a dozen other antique and second-hand stores were already in this area — and, being new to Central Oregon, I was apprehensive about where to acquire new merchandise. Fortunately, the community was incredibly welcoming and we were well-received right from the start.”
Swisher added that the store became popular fast enough, and he settled into his new community quickly. While he was concerned about finding local merchandise, he said that connections naturally followed and stocking Iron Horse was never a problem.
Over the years, Swisher has learned some lessons about how to effectively run a successful second-hand store. Most notably, he said it is important to be able to adjust as trends and styles come and go, “I’ve learned the importance of remaining adaptable to account for changing tastes. Some of the furniture and other items that are popular today are different from the ones that were in demand 10, 20, or 30 years ago,” he said. “People’s tastes change and it has been very important to our business to learn to adapt.
Like many other business owners, Swisher was forced to adapt especially during the year 2020. While he said that 2020, “proved to be a challenging year,” he also recounted how the Bend community stepped up to support his business and others, “the support the community showed to local businesses like ours was just incredible. Many people reached out to buy gift certificates to use when the store reopened,” Swisher said.
Iron Horse currently specializes in iron decor; things like hardware, garden equipment and more. However, Swisher said that because styles come and go, he’s always had a wide variety of merchandise for customers to choose from.
Having been in Bend for so long, Iron Horse has become a staple shopping location for many locals, “We’ve seen many people who first came to the store as kids now bringing their own little ones in,” Swisher said. “It’s always fun to see familiar faces return and to see how they’ve grown over the years. We’ve enjoyed being a part of the Westside neighborhood and often have people swing by on their way to Drake Park or elsewhere downtown to say ‘hi’ and catch up.”
While Iron Horse has called Congress Street home for decades now, that building has been sold and its future is up in the air. Iron Horse will be consolidating this location with the other Bend location, located on First Street. “We’re happy to be (almost fully) consolidated into our new location and we hope to continue being a part of the community in the years ahead,” Swisher said.
By March 31, Swisher said that Iron Horse will be completely moved out of the Congress Street location, fully combining with the First Street location. Swisher said that longtime customers seem excited for the future of Iron Horse, and have embraced the new look and layout of the First Street Location.
Swisher said, “We’re on a first-name basis with a lot of people who over the years have become friends, not just customers. We’re looking forward to continuing these relationships from our First St. location.”
As of now, completing this transitional phase and fully moving both stores into one space is the main goal on Swisher’s mind. For the future, he’s hoping that the Bend community continues to see Iron Horse as the long-established, family-friendly store that it has been for years. While some customers were concerned with the news of a location closing, it is safe to say that Iron Horse will remain a haven for antique collectors and treasure hunters for years to come.
632 NE First St., Bend • 541-382 5175