5 Portland vintage stores to visit

Does this ever happen to you? You go out shopping with a friend, intent upon checking out three new (to you) stores. You visit two of them, get distracted by a store not on the list, detour for lunch, then run out of time. Plus, a fourth store gets added to the list based on a recommendation from a salesperson. To sum up, you started with three to check out, finished two, added one, and ended with two stores yet to visit. And another day of shopping is promptly scheduled.

This kind of problem is my favorite kind of problem to have. A shopping to-do list is a wonderful thing - it's a vacation in your own town! Stretching it out and adding on another day is just one more reason to bond with your buds. This just happened to me - to your benefit. I have new stores for you to visit, and I'm not finished with my original list.

Let's face it, some of the biggest shopping duties of the year are right around the corner. Presents for the holidays. Holiday parties. Holiday parties where you will play guest, where you will play host. Have you made your list and checked it twice? Start early, of course, and try avoiding the mall for even more fun. Be the one this year who gives the most unique gifts: vintage, used, antique, homemade, or handmade. Think: arts and crafts, all by local artists. Grab your re-usable bags and your best shopping pals, and get started. All of the following stores are good - no, great - places to present shop. The four vintage stores are also fantastic places to get your party duds.

1. Orox Leather: This store was featured in the Oregonian, and I was intrigued. Handmade leather goods created by a family of craftsmen? Definitely worth a look. And look we did - for about 40 minutes. This store is lovely, and the selection of handmade goods is terrific. We salivated over purses, totes, backpacks, cross-body bags, you name it. My friend thinks she might be able to finish all her holiday shopping in this one store. She was looking at a waterproof cross-body or backpack for her daughter in college, an overhead-friendly leather duffel for her husband, plus a waterproof tote for herself. Buy local, baby. And finish that shopping early.


A note about the following vintage stores - these are not "digging" stores where you will have to sift through piles of stuff. They are "curated" stores that feel like boutiques rather than thrift shops.

2. Eden Vintage Clothing. You can start looking for your holiday glam here. This store has an incredible selection of vintage clothes, and it just received a large collection of costumes from an old Hollywood studio. Plus they carry cool jewelry and accessories from Oregon artists. I would say this is the funkiest of the four stores on the list. Here is where you are likely to find a multi-color leather motorcycle jacket or a fringed cloth Annie Oakley jacket. Eden is the place to start for your edgy niece. And if you're a devotee of the little black dress, this store has some of the most unusual and one-of-a-kind wraps, shrugs, and evening coats to give your look something new.


3. Xtabay. Another fantastic vintage store, but it's very different from Eden as it offers a different point of view. Xtabay showcases incredible vintage dresses, and has a celebrity cult following. I have heard someone describe this store as more "literal" than Eden, and while that is true, Xtabay is in no way boring. Have you ever seen anyone at a party who is dressed in impeccable 40s style, with the nipped-in waste dress, the coiffed hair, a brooch, and perhaps a pillbox hat? You will find all of that at Xtabay. You will also find vintage Chloe from the 70s, and beaded Ungaro. It's a fantastic store. If you feel like shaking up your look, maybe adding a little Dita Von Teese? This is the place to go!

4. Next on the list is Yo Vintage. Downtown on SW 12th, just off Burnside, this store has a much younger, and more casual, vibe. There is a good selection of leather skirts (including some gold), and a definite 70s / 80s feel. This is more for hipsters, so if you're shopping for one, check it out.

5. The last store I hit this week was Vintalier, and we hit the jackpot. This was my friend's style exactly and she spent about $320. What did she get? A beautiful vintage wool sweater and funky plaid shirt for her husband, a skirt for work, lovely (and unworn) gloves for herself, a wool plaid scarf that might go to her husband (or it might be hers), and a gorgeous leather jacket. The jacket is brown suede, from the 70s or early 80s, fringed, and the lining is in perfect shape. There were party clothes here, as well as some lingerie, but the everyday clothes and outerwear really set this shop apart.

My suggestion is this - analyze your closet and see what you really need to get through the holidays. A cool wrap? A cocktail dress? What presents do you need to buy? Who on your list would get a kick out of vintage or handmade goods? Start with the stores above for vintage finds and work from local artists. And remember, with local and vintage stores you have to keep going in to check the stock. This is part of the fun - and you won't regret it! As for me, I'll keep working on my list of stores, and I'll let you know how it goes.

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