Seedy motels and a nonexistent street scene used to define this inner east gateway to downtown Portland, but the transformation of a former Travel Lodge into the hipster The Jupiter Hotel (the site of the successful art fair The Affair The Jupiter in Sept.) has helped turn this district into a worthy shopping outpost.
GOOD FOR THE EARTH ADORNMENTS
Lately the jewelrymaker has been marrying estate sale necklaces with sterling silver liquor tags that say VERMOUTH ($195) and selling Vinylux cuff bracelets made from old records ($8 if all vinyl; $50 if lined with silver).
But jewelry only makes up half of the fresh finds in her shop. The rest of the offbeat mix, much of it made from recycled or reinvented materials, includes scarfs made from recycled wool sweaters ($36), purses made from highway signs (the NO PARKING bag she wears costs $195), and Steel Toe Studios’ forged steel belt buckles adorned with house parts such as a house number, a doorknocker or a key ($80).
“I try to be the local version of Crafty Wonderland,” she says of the show that bills itself as Portland’s monthly art and craft extravaganza.
Two years ago, you had to risk getting a parking ticket when you entered THE WHOLE 9 YARDS (1820 E. Burnside St., 503-223-2880 or go to w9yards.com), then in the heart of the Pearl District.
Happily, Amy Estrin and Jamie Eoff, the husband-and-wife co-owners of this 17-year-old interior fabric store, packed up their nearly 1,000 bolts of upholstery and drapery fabric in 2006 and turned this former neon sign shop—with its own parking lot!—into a sprawling home couture store for their furniture line, sumptuous fabrics (for slipcovering, drapery and upholstery), trims, and The Sewing Work Room, where you can learn, say, to recover dining room chairs.
“Fabrics with strong graphics are really walking out of the shop these days,” says manager Pamela Hartzell. “And 100-percent post-consumer recycled fabrics like this one, which is made from plastic bottles, are big, too.”
SETTLE INTO THE OPPOSITE OF STARBUCKS
When you’re ready to refuel, head for a couple of E. Burnside St. haunts that capture the quirky boho energy in so many of the boutiques. Grab a copy of somebody else’s recycled Food & Wine or The New Republic off of the large bookshelf at GRENDEL’S COFFEE HOUSE (729 E. Burnside St., 503-595-9550) to paw through while you wait for an offbeat thirst quencher such as a hot apple or ginger cider, or a Mayan hot chocolate (right). The establishment, which provides free Wifi and two computers for customers’ use, also serves coffee (including Americanos and lattes), tea, cookies and made-to-order sandwiches.
Whether you crave a burger or a full breakfast (served here until 3 a.m.!), settle into a booth at DOUG FIR (830 E. Burnside St., 503-231-9663) at THE JUPITER HOTEL (800 E. Burnside St.,503-230-9200). Yeah, the décor is set designlike (Paul Bunyan and Quentin Tarantino would both feel at home), but the restaurant’s small yet oh-so-yummy Fir Burger can be had in beef, buffalo, garden burger or chicken breast ($7.75, includes French fries or a small side salad).
DANCE AROUND THE EXOTICS IN THIS WOODWORKER'S DREAM!
Bubinga. Cocobolo. Wenge. If you pine for cabinetry accented with these exotic woods, take a spin through WOODCRAFTERS (212 N.E. Sixth Ave., 503-231-0226 or go to woodcrafters.us), a 35-year-old business that stocks more than 15,000 items for carpenters, cabinetmakers and DIYers who practice the art of woodworking.
If you’re not a Normite, as devotees of “This Old House’s” master carpenter Norm Abram call themselves, you’ll enjoy oogling the fireplace mantels ($1,310), moldings ($2.95 a linear foot for clear vertical-grain Douglas fir), polished copper pulls ($7.56), or the many weathervanes that top the seven bookshelves filled with woodworking books in the back of the shop.
Located in a former dance studio, this charming lingerie shop, LILLE BOUTIQUE (1007 E. Burnside, 503-232-0333 or lilleboutique.com), offers wisps of luxurious silk and wool undergarments beautifully embellished with couture sewing techniques such as pleats and rouching. Yeah, paying $145 for an Alpaca knit camisole—and $65 for the matching high-waisted panties!—might seem so Oprah, but it’s cheaper than raising llamas and spinning the fabric yourself.
“We wanted a lingerie store that you didn’t hate going to,” says shop co-owner Sara Yurman, who sells everything in the shop (think retro vanities, pictures and furniture) along with bras and panties by Araks, Beau Bra, Bodas, Ciel, Elise Aucouturier, Princess Tam Tam and Vera Wang. Also available are accessories such as a silk lingerie bag ($34) by Elizabeth W, jewelry by Kiersten Crowley ($34) and specialty soaps. “This one smells so amazing I want to bite it!” says Yurman.
SHADES OF THE PAST
Browse beneath hundreds of vintage to-die-for light fixtures at HIPPO HARDWARE (1040 E. Burnside, 503-231-1444 or go to hippohardware.com), a three-story, 30,000-square-foot house part emporium that holds more than 130,000 pieces of cabinet hardware, conical hat-shaped glass lampshades that look as if they’re topping an imaginary workforce of Vietnamese fieldhands, plumbing fixtures such as a decades-old 5-foot-long clawfoot tub ($61) and architectural salvage. “Scream and yell if you need some help,” offered the oh-so-Portland shop smiling clerk behind the counter.
STEP BACK IN TIME
You expect to find a valance of a dozen crinoline skirts in Frida Kahlo colors such as grape, lime-green and hot pink at BOMBSHELL VINTAGE (811 E. Burnside, 503-239-1073)—yep, here for the picking!—but you don’t expect shop owner Kim Wainio, a former corporate trainer for an online wire service to also stock sweet vintage pieces such as this 1940s ceramic pencil sharpener ($12) that’s perfect for a retro-loving cubicle-dweller.
“Today’s clothing is disposable; it’s made to be worn for a little while and thrown away,” says Wainio, who shops garage sales and thrift stores as far away as her native Minnesota to stock her mix. “But there’s a generation of women who bought nice clothes 50 or 60 years ago—and they really took care of their stuff.”
Many of their castaways are available here. Opt for a vintage Lorrie Deb party dress ($140), a maroon full-length smoking jacket ($40), a pair of 1950s cat glasses ($12) or a Borsalina brown fedora ($24). Just know that there’s a resident male who sniffs out your selections: Wainio’s shop dog, Blaze.
HOUSEPLANTS NOT FROM HELL
HOOK SOME HORNS
Having a hard time finding coyote knuckles, a drilled bison tooth or any manner of skulls (think beaver, otter, bobcat or this $80 pronghorn) to adorn your second home in Central Oregon? Make for ZENO ODDITIES (729 E. Burnside, 503-235-9366), where a strange mix of black-velvet paintings, animal parts, used and new record albums, and new CDs help the store live up to its name. The owner of the shop, Steve Plouf, played drums with The Wipers and sells CDs of that band under the label Zeno Records ($17 for a three-CD boxed set).
Before you go home to string up your coyote knuckles, check out the small landing where vintage tablecloths and bedding such as a pink and white chenille bedspread ($47) hang.
THE ENGLISH ARE COMING! THE ENGLISH ARE COMING!
Actually, if you’re looking for English antiques—or French or Italian pieces—they’re at FLOURISH INTERIORS (521 N.E. Davis St., 503-233-6800 or go to flourish-interiors.com). Housed in a 5,000-square-foot former Studebaker showroom (with a full-size lift!), this collective of four antiques dealers stocks fine antiques, custom upholstered furniture and special-
order furnishings for people who are finishing off their traditional or European-style homes.
“My wife, Laurie Rutter, handles the interior design end of the business,” says shop co-owner Ken Hellewell, who spent from 1999 to 2003 sailing his 38-foot-boat, Topaz, 30,000 miles around the world. Bye-bye, high seas. Hello, fine furniture from faraway places from another era!
We saw eye-catching Paris Blue-edged French enamel dishes, a circa 1828 continental pine blanket chest ($675), a set of 13 pewter goblets ($125), and a French marble-topped Deco sideboard and mirror to complement a period dining room. If you live in a loft, there are things here for you, too. Check out the vintage aluminum propeller blade ($550) that could make a sculpturelike statement suspended from your warehouse-high ceiling.
THE MINI-EST MALL
No, that isn’t the world’s skinniest shop you’re passing near 24th Avenue and E. Burnside: It’s a kiosk featuring the jewelry of SPIN DESIGNS INC. (2424 E. Burnside; 503-235-5644 or go to spindesigns.etsy.com), the handiwork of sisters Michelle Berlin and Dee Dee Ploog, who create jewelry such as Tango ($70, right), a 3-inch-wide mini-mobile of hand-tooled stainless steel dangling from an 18-inch multi-strand steel cable. Spin Designs also creates modern adornments for the home and garden.