Portland’s Kenton District

Photos by Jason Kaplan

Visiting the Kenton neighborhood, located in North Portland, is like visiting a place all its own. Richly steeped in history as a former meatpacking district, its residents are passionate about staying true to its roots while keeping a distinct eye on the future, and it shows in their firm dedication to maintaining a welcoming, small-town community feel. From antique shops to bakeries, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

2104 N. Willis Boulevard
If you need:
To create a sanctuary at home (or in your backyard)

Stepping into Bamboo Craftsman Company is a bit like stepping into an urban oasis. Fitting, since when owner Troy Susan started the shop in 1999, his mission statement was to help people create their own sanctuaries. Bamboo is definitely the name of the game, with 30-plus types of it to choose from, but if you’d prefer to admire rather than embark on your own project, the shop often hosts outdoor parties in their bamboo garden out back for the community to admire and enjoy. Kate Murray-Sichel, employee and bamboo enthusiast explains that their desire to foster community is matched in the other residents of Kenton: “Kenton is a quickly growing neighborhood, full of kind people. The businesses here all strive to support each other, and it is because of these reasons Kenton has such a sweet, small town feel.”

3131 N. Lombard St.
If you need: Toys and treats for your furry (or feathered) friend

Calling Kenton home since 2012, Fang & Feather serves as the place for nearby pets (and their owners) to find their favorite supplies and sundries, with a family-owned feel. It’s something owner Nancy Fedelem is proud of. “I would like to think that we’re just as friendly as our community, and we always have our door open to welcome people in and help in any way we can.” Though a relative newcomer herself, she recognizes where Kenton has come from and where it’s headed next. “It’s an old neighborhood with lots of charm and open arms for newcomers, but it’s time for our community to add a new coat of paint. I think Kenton is headed in a direction of growth and community strength.”

8128 N. Denver Ave.
If you need: Curated home and wardrobe scores

Environmental enthusiasts and bargain hunters alike could happily spend an afternoon at Give and Take Resale. This is especially true because owner Chelsea Swanda likes to stock the shop with a little bit of everything, from furniture and home décor, to clothing and accessories. But half the fun of stopping in is to simply spend time there, whether consigning or not. “The nature of the shop makes it a bit of a community center,” Swanda explains. “People linger and browse while waiting for their merchandise to be sorted and priced.” Much is the same with the neighborhood it calls home. “Hopefully Kenton will continue to maintain the slow-pace as we evolve as a business district.”

8112 N. Denver Ave.
If you need: To exercise your treasure-hunting prowess

Catering to both avid collectors and casual browsers, Kenton Antiques is hard to beat, especially because owner Maureen Bachmann believes that antiques are for everyone. Everything in the shop is imbued with history, and much of it is local. “I love learning about the history of the items in my shop,” she says, “and I have a real soft spot for North Portland history, so I use Kenton Antiques as a space to showcase that.” In the 30-odd years it’s been open, it’s remained a firm neighborhood favorite with visitors young and old, and as the president of the Kenton Business Association, Bachmann is confident that it, as well as Kenton itself, is going to stay that way for many years to come. “It’s a real pleasure to guide the neighborhood through the process of modernization without losing sight of the historical characteristics that make Kenton so unique.”

2020 N. McClellan St.
If you need:  Repairs, vintage parts or endless amounts of bike advice

Kenton Cycle Repair may seem small, but that’s more than made up for by the fact that the shop is stuffed to the gills with everything a bicyclist could want and then some. The passion that owner Rich Walker and his team have for the hobby is clear, but the riders are what keep them going. “We love bicycles, but honestly, we love the relationships we form with the community even more.” One could certainly argue that the whole of Portland has a fondness for bikes, but Walker finds that there’s something special in Kenton. “Our hope is that Kenton will grow and keep its diversity, its friendliness and its urban-planning quirks for decades to come.”

8202 N. Denver Ave.
If you need:  Gifts and homewares showcasing local and regional artistry

Like its name suggests, Mantel is the kind of shop to find a piece you might want to put on your, well, mantel. A highly curated and carefully arranged space, every object there has its place. “The goods are handmade with a modern, simple aesthetic,” owner and founder Karen McClelland explains. But what makes the shop particularly special, is its commitment to carrying a large amount of work from Kenton-area artists, including two potters, a woodworker and a candle maker among others. Speaking to Kenton itself, McClelland has a more conflicted view: “We want it to grow, to become increasingly pedestrian friendly, but we want to keep its personality and flavor.”

8208 N. Denver Ave.
If you need: Pastries and cakes like your grandmother used to make

If the smell alone doesn’t tempt you into Posies Bakery & Cafe, then the inviting and homey interior surely will. But let it be known, it’s nothing fancy (and that’s a good thing!). Instead, in owner Jessie Burke’s words, “We are about what’s authentically delicious and good.” And with offerings from roasted-eggplant sandwiches and kale Caesar salads to macaroons and biscuits, it’s easy to see why it’s been a firm neighborhood favorite, though Burke herself grew up close to the Maryland-Virginia border. And what her shop embodies is what drew her to Kenton (and what keeps her). “We are filled with makers, collectors, crafts and caring businesses, and we see our residents as reflections of that same quality. It’s the ultimate community experience, which is everything I hoped for when I moved here 14 years ago.”

2030 N. Willis Blvd.
If you need: Vintage fabrics given new life as custom-designed upholstery

As a team, husband and wife Leland Duck and Chelsea Howard are undoubtedly one of a kind, just like the pieces they craft for their clients or their ever-changing showroom. But it’s much more about the process than the final product. “We really love the process of collaborating with our clients from conception to completion” and it shows, in their array of fabrics and materials for visitors to look through to inspire future designs. But Duck and Howard take inspiration from somewhere even closer to home. “Kenton as an area really reflects our love for innovative design,” they explain, “and all the growth that is happening is really exciting and inspiring.”


2024 N. Argyle St.
If you need:  Custom-crafted furniture made from former homes and barns

Visiting Salvage Works is a bit like stepping back in time. That’s because everything on display, from the coffee tables to the stacks of lumber, had a previous life as part of a home, barn or business. “We know where all our material comes from and often have a photo or story to go with it,” owner Rachel Browning explains. “For example, in the warehouse right now are hand-hewn beams from a 1904 barn in Troutdale that make great rustic mantelpieces.” And just like what you’d find at the shop, the neighborhood Salvage Works has called home since 2010 feels one of a kind. “Kenton is like a small town. There’s nothing corporate here except the bank. Hopefully more of the same is to come.” 


8103 N. Denver Ave.
If you want:  Neighborhood pub fare with a high-end twist

Named after Swift Meat Packing and Union Meat Company, businesses that gave Kenton its start, Swift and Union, like sister restaurant Tabor Tavern, prides itself on having a distinctly neighborhood feel. “It’s the kind of place,” co-owner Kristen Siefkin describes, “that you can bring your friends, family and business associates or dine solo at the bar, and you’ll always feel comfortable and find something great to eat”—like fish and chips, lamb burgers and pork chops with potato dumplings. Through and through, it’s a reflection of both the area and the people who live there. “Kenton represents what Portland was 20 years ago: quirky, hardworking, and fiercely tight. We hope that level of respect and neighborhood pride remains indefinitely.”