N. Mississippi Ave

This vibrant, walkable historic district centered around N. Mississippi Ave. continues to draw independent proprietresses and purveyors of everything from antiques to specialty salt from around the world. Head here if you want an artsy-yet-sophisticated shopping experience among a young, independent crowd.




Mosey into BELLA NORTE (3978 N. Mississippi Ave. or e-mail [email protected]) and you’re more likely to find Donna Derington (left), the antiques dealer—and Re-Upholsterer-in-Chief and Furniture Refinisher Queen—in a T-shirt and jeans than in one of the pristine vintage dresses she has hanging in the 4-year-old shop. “I’m always hauling something or refinishing furniture in the basement,” says the Oak Grove, Ore., native. “There are a lot of young families in the neighborhood, so I like to have good pieces within their reach.”

A former manager at Rejuvenation, Derington stocks her shop with American and European pieces from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s, all in great shape. We loved a Persian Tabriz rug ($1,200) and an Edwardian French walnut ladies chaise lounge ($725). “One of my customers bought it in Paris in 1965,” she says. “I always try to get the provenance of the pieces I sell.” 



Shoptalk-2.jpgPrimitive furniture and rustic home accessories from the heartland are the holy grails at Porch light (3972 N. Mississippi Ave., 503-288-6733 or go to, the homespun shop that  Iowa native Keiran Best owns.

From the vintage aprons that hang from the ceiling (below) to a rusty white-letters-on-green metal street sign that spells out S FIRST ST on the wall ($42; the sign once topped a curbside pole in Des Moines, Iowa), you’ll feel as if you’re in an antiques store in the Midwest when you peruse this authentic mix from the part of the country that most people fly over.

We liked a vintage world map ($135) that undoubtedly spent decades hanging on the wall in a rural classroom, a blue metal wheelbarrow ($112.50) and industrial salvage pieces such as a six–drawer metal cart on casters ($275) and a black metal desk fan ($50).

If you’re a wildflowers-in-a-mason-jar kind of girl (or guy), you’ve got a new destination shop to add to your circuit. 



Shoptalk-3.jpgFlock over to PISTILS NURSERY (3811 N. Mississippi Ave., 503-288-4889 or go to to meet all of your gardening and urban homesteading needs. You’ll find everything from that Royal Purple smokebush ($42) you’re been looking for to cutie-patootie chicks ($5.50 each, select from such breeds as Bantams, Speckled Sussex, Delaware and Ameraucana, the chickens that lay the blue, green and pink eggs) to eliminate egg-buying at the grocery. Terrariums to accent your mid-century interiors are here as well as organic house numbers ($5 per number, above) from the workbench of Portland artist Robert Jefferson Travis Pond of Steel Pond Studios. He’s got your number!




Shoptalk-4.jpgIf salvaged goods speak to you and you’re in the market for “new” furniture, check out a corner of THE REBUILDING CENTER (3625 N. Mississippi Ave., 503-331-1877 or go to, the largest nonprofit reuse center for building materials in North America. There, you’ll come across the latest offerings from REFIND FURNITURE (503-445-1756 or go to, The ReBuilding Center’s 9-year-old furniture-making offshoot that produces furnishings and accessories (think tables, coffee tables, benches, mirrors and coat racks) crafted out of materials reclaimed from deconstructed Portland-area homes. Each piece of ReFind furniture is made from 99 percent salvaged materials and low-VOC finishes.

We liked this Persimmon Table ($265), a coffee table cobbled together from four industrial legs attached to a tabletop made from ceiling tins beneath a glass pane edged in old-growth Doug fir, the framing lumber of choice for vintage homes in the Rose City. ReFind’s Cheval Mirror ($250) repurposes a salvaged french door; a woodworker replaces the door’s 10 panes of glass with rectangles of mirror and hinges it onto a handsome new stand that permits you to tilt the mirror for a head-to-toe view. Beach house-perfect picture frames made out of reclaimed building materials ($20 to $30) cover most of another wall. ReFind Furniture even takes on custom work for commercial clients who want to celebrate their greenness with environmentally sustainable furniture.


Shoptalk-5.jpgThere are a lot of lighting galleries in town, but if you’re looking for a hard-to-find or specialty lightbulb, there’s only one place to head to shorten your quest: SUNLAN LIGHTING INC. (3901 N. Mississippi Ave., 503-281-0453 or go to You’ll find proprietress Kay “The Lightbulb Lady” Newell sitting at her desk just inside the door of the former Couch Pharmacy. With 22 years in the business, she can illuminate your lighting needs and point you to the aisle in the shop that holds the bulb you want. We stocked up on PureLite® Neodymium bulbs ($5 each), which simulate daylight, replicating 90 percent of the light and warmth you’d get on a typical fall day. When we spotted these Unilite floodlamps ($10 each, above) clipped to a black bookcase, we loved their fabulously film noir vibe.



Shoptalk-6.jpgA vibrant turquoise-teal accent wall and one-of-a-kind vintage finds will make your time in FLUTTER (3948 N. Mississippi Ave., 503-288-1649 or go to fly by. Look for 50-year-old paint-by-number canvases ($40 for Fu Man Chu man) and industrial salvage such as a two-step stool with perforated steps ($50) amid new chandeliers, jewelry and a rack of “salvaged heirlooms” by Urchin Design ($285 for a velvet bodiced, layered-tulle-skirted ballerina dress).

And don’t miss the finches in a large birdcage in the middle of the boutique. “They give the shop such a nice background sound,” says co-owner Cindy Rokoff of the 4-year-old business.



Five years ago, proprietress Sarah Shaoul—then a new mom—launched BLACK WAGON (3964 N. Mississippi Ave., 503-916-0000 or go to as an online venture. “I was disappointed by the offerings for little boys, which were all covered in what we weren’t into: football, fire trucks and teddy bears,” says Shaoul, now the mother of two boys. “That’s why I started a business for well-designed things for kids.”

Shoptalk-7.jpgA year later, she opened this brick-and-mortar-store, which sells irreverent and earth-friendly clothes, toys, books, furniture and bedding for children. We liked this birch plywood Ecotots Surfin twin bed ($950) and a Stokke Tripp Trapp Chair ($250), along with the Nook Sleep Systems of infant mattresses and bedding.

“I want to present future classics to my customers,” she says. “You know, the things you’ll find in a vintage store 50 years from now.”





Shoptalk-8.jpgIf the only salt you use comes from a round container with an umbrella-toting girl in a yellow dress on it, treat your palate to one of 130 finishing salts at The meadow (3731 N. Mississippi Ave., 503-288-4633 or go to The 4-year-old shop—which also sells flowers, wine and chocolate—is small, but Parisien pretty, which is no coincidence, since co-owners Jennifer Turner Bitterman and Mark Bitterman lived there for a year after marrying.

“There was the sweetest little butcher shop five blocks from where we lived in Paris,” Jennifer says of the inspiration for their shop. “Just a tiny space with meats, five mustards and five bottles of wine. It was so subtle and sweet.”

Look for a starter set of six salts ($24 for small tins, which hold .6 to one ounce of specialty salts such as Turkish Black Pyramid), salt bowls ($42, in Jennifer’s hands) from Pakistan and blocks of salt for cooktop grilling.

What if you limit your sodium intake? “We probably eat less salt than anybody,” says Mark, a father of two and the selmelier in the family, whose book—Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, With Recipes ($35, Ten Speed Press)—comes out Oct. 12. “We just use it strategically, for maximum impact.”