New Stores on Your Rotation
Aug 26
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It's (still) summer, the very best time of the year. Forget about the soon-to-be leaves turning colors or football season or even the holidays. Everything, but everything, is best in summer. And the hotter the better.

There's only one problem with summer - there's too much to do, so much fun to be had. Festivals, concerts, street fairs, art shows, picnics, parties, and of course, the best of all: my back yard. I could sit outside all day in a lounge chair with a book and let the summer warm my toes. But I do go out. Friends and the sun call, and off I go to shop, eat, explore. And this is where the extreme coolness of Portland enters the pic. As locals know, but more distant readers may not, Portland is divided roughly into quadrants. Burnside, the old main drag downtown, divides the town, north and south. The Willamette River divides the town east and west. The road and the river intersect downtown at the Burnside Bridge, creating NW / SW / NE / SE Portland. (There are a few more sub-sections, plus the 'burbs, but let's keep it simple today.) The popularity of each section ebbs and flows, new restaurants open and close, making a neighborhood hot or cold, but there's one universal truth: PDX is a walking town. If you set yourself down in any area, any quadrant, you will find food, boutiques, bars, neighborhoods, food carts, hipsters, panhandlers, you name it. Portland ain't Houston or LA. We are not defined by the freeways and off-ramps. We are defined by atmosphere. And walking to absorb it is a must.

With that in mind, here are some of my summer finds - great haunts discovered while out and about. You may want to check them out, but you don't have to do it now. Feel free to wait till the rain starts. Right now's the time to enjoy the long days in whatever fashion floats your boat. And, when those poor dead leaves start to fall and you're ready to wander, here's where to start.

A friend was housesitting on N Williams, so I went over to have some fries at Lardo. Dirty fries. Need I say more? And of course we wandered. This neighborhood used to be sketchy, but no longer. N Williams is a well-traveled commuter bike zone, and a hot spot for new condos and development. With condos comes food. When there's food the shops follow. It's now easy to spend an afternoon on this street. You could just barhop and go away happy - just make sure to take the bus home.
1. Queen Bee sells the epitome of the Portland hipster / eco-friendly bag. It's something of a requirement to hit this store if you live in town, plus their warehouse sale is boatloads of chaotic fun. And they've got more than bags! I've been asked several times about eco party décor. Crêpe paper is bad for the environment, folks. Balloons are worse. But at Queen Bee they sell bunting that doesn't wreck the environment. Check out Pic 1. (For more eco party ideas, here's a cool Pinterest board.) Hit the shop. Who knows? You might buy a bag and some bunting.
2. Workshop Vintage: Continuing up the street, we checked out Workshop Vintage (see Pics 2 and 3), which has some of the coolest, freshest vintage clothes I've seen in a while. It's a carefully selected inventory, with psychedelic pantsuits and retro-is-cool florals. I was really enamored of an old Sears grandma flowery blouse, made well before the "softer side of Sears", and certainly before the pictures of empty shelves and stories of a declining store. This was quirky and cool.
3. When you go to N Williams, try Tasty n Sons for breakfast, Box Social (good popcorn) for drinks, and of course Lardo's dirty fries. Make a day of it.

NW is historically a more shi shi part of town. Sitting at the base of the West Hills, the landed gentry can easily get to this area for food and shopping. The rest of us hoi polloi can shop in NW without paying the high property taxes. Check out Dragontree Spa - I'm a fan. Who doesn't like a good facial?
4. OKO: This is a cool little shop on NW Thurman with great stuff, new and old, and beautiful jewelry - vintage silver and vintage turquoise jewelry, in particular. If you can't make it to the Four Corners region, check out the selection here instead. Also, OKO carries small pieces of art from local artists and artisans, which make perfect gifts. I'm not nuts, folks - it's almost the holidays. You need to start thinking about this!
5. Meadow Design sits behind OKO. I was particularly enamored of their cups, bowls, and sweet little salt cellars. Again, gifts! The salt cellars alone are great as wedding presents, house warming gifts, stocking stuffers. Get over there.

SE has a funky vibe. Always has, right? These days, it's home to not just an impressive variety of strip bars, but also some of the best food in town, plus shopping. If you haven't been to SE Division lately, check it out - it's changing daily. Ava Gene's is my second favorite restaurant in town, plus there's an outpost of Bollywood (my third fave) and Little Big Burger. You won't go hungry, that's for sure. I always hit Adorn when on this side of town, and now there's another great place to put in the rotation.
6. Carter and Rose is the latest Division store to snag attention. They give pottery making classes there, and sell great pottery. The bowls in Pics 4 and 5 were perfect for a friend's housewarming present. Nobody else will have these bowls - she's the only one! That's what happens when you buy from local artists. There is also jewelry, bags made from hides, and plant wall hangers. Is there a special word for wall-hanging pottery that holds plants? If so, please let me know.

When I moved to town in the middle ages, SW was the place to live. And while there are still plenty of cool places to wander in SW (Multnomah Village!) and good schools, plus the close-by downtown business zone, it's not considered cool by the hipster crowd. But the hipster crowd doesn't make the rules, folks! In the Hillsdale area alone you will find Baker and Spice, Paloma for clothes, Gigi's for breakfast, and plenty more, like the Bowser Boutique.
7. The daughter of a friend donates her time and energy to Oregon Dachshund Rescue, Inc. She takes in dogs, and also makes bags out of recycled / salvaged fabric to sell at the charity's Bowser Boutique on Capitol Highway. Being dissatisfied with my veggie bag situation, and knowing that numerous friends hadn't made the switch yet, I ordered 20 or so bags to give away. Check out some of the selection I received in Pic 6 above. The small bags are for nuts or herbs, the big for produce or bread or whatever you need them to hold.

Last but not least, I found some stuff online to try out.
8. Eco Nuts (Pic 7): I have been intending to make my own detergent for a few years now, but it's not happening. So an alternative is in order, and Eco Nuts will hopefully be the solution. No, I didn't find them locally, but if they're truly biodegradable (and they're in cardboard, not plastic), this may be a solution.
9. Simply Gum: When I discovered that most commercial gum is actually made of plastic, I was appalled, and quit the gum habit after chewing up my inventory. Guess what? I hate not chewing gum. In an eco blog (don't remember which), I read about Simply Gum (Pic 8). All natural in cardboard packaging. Oh yeah. Now here's the deal. These flavors are odd, but also oddly addictive. The gum does NOT turn into a rock after three minutes, which is cool. It doesn't have the lovely consistency of plastic gum, but then, it's not plastic. Give it a try!

See what I've done? When the rain starts, you have a ready-made shopping list to distract you from the weather. You're welcome.
(1) Comments   | Tags: re: Shopping
 

COMMENTS

Thanks for stopping by Queen Bee while staying in our neighborhood!

Cheers,

Rebecca Pearcy / Queen Bee

By Rebecca on 27/08/2015

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