Next-Level Bodega

Mini Mini Reimagines the Convenience Store

The East Burnside mini-mart elevates the utilitarian corner store to a haven of Helvetica, crowlers, and niche snacks.

By Jason Buehrer November 14, 2016 Published in the December 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

Pomo 1216 mini mini yzcrtd

Image: Michael Novak

Stepping into Mini Mini at night is like teleporting into an Edward Hopper painting: an oasis of bright lights, clean surfaces, and classic looks. Everywhere a custom Helvetica-based font earnestly announces the wares: “Chips.” “Beer.” In the back corner, a Jones Soda fountain and kombucha tap replace what might normally be a Slushee machine. Instead of greasy hot dogs spinning on their rollers forevermore, the counter holds fresh muffins, croissants, and handmade Sizzle Pie pizza pockets.    

With Mini Mini, opened in September at the corner of East Burnside Street and Seventh Avenue, owners Jonathan Felix-Lund and Matt Brown aspire to change the convenience store experience. The pair began scheming in 2012 while working at Stumptown Coffee. They approached Sizzle Pie as a collaborator and brought on Aaron Draplin, a longtime local designer for Sizzle Pie as well as Nike and Finex, to craft the display fonts and logo.

The duo is planning more locations, elevating the utilitarian corner store with a stripped-down and essential tone. The setting could feel as much like a ’60s throwback as an ’80s homage. “You can see the brand and wonder, ‘Has this been here for 10 years?’” says Felix-Lund. “It immediately feels like it has a life and history to it.”

Mini Mini departs from the standard merchandise strategy, with a tight selection of products both mass-market and niche. La Croix and Dr. Pepper sit next to lesser-known microbrews and Late July multigrain ranch chips. “It’s like inviting people to your wedding,” Felix-Lund says of filling the shelves. “You have an inner circle, and then you have the next circle, and before you know it you have 300 people. One of the hardest things do is to stay true to what we set out to be.”

Filed under
Show Comments