15 Perfectly Portland Shops in the N Mississippi/Williams Neighborhood
Few areas encapsulate the shared obsessions of Portlanders better than these twin shopping strips, which lure with old vinyl records and arty Northwest gifts; taxidermy curiosities, classy sex toy displays, and high-end outdoors wear—all housed at chic shops owned and operated by locals. Nothing comes cheap around these gentrified parts, but oh, the window shopping.
APPAREL For stylish, outdoors-approved apparel, shoes, and accessories as well as Northwest-crafted gifts and housewares, Animal Traffic is a one-stop shopping destination. Featuring beloved staples like Levi’s, Wrangler, and Pendleton, the shop also offers American-made denim, ruggedly chic packs, and city-to-trail ready boots.
MUSIC This spare music store invites serious browsing with wooden racks full of new and used vinyl (skewing toward electronic, experimental, and indie rock finds) plus cassettes and ephemera. Psst: the space is also home to shop owner Andrew Neerman’s record label.
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KIDS Local parents covet every inch of this small, cool-kid fortress, from robot-festooned Hatley raincoats to teeny Native slip-ons. Plus, Black Wagon proves that being a baby means no pattern is too wild. The store stocks high-end wiener-dog-print dresses, cheetah kerchiefs, and merman onesies.
Ink & Peat
GIFTS/JEWELRY After opening her perfectly curated home and floral design store, Ink & Peat owner Pam Zsori quickly got used to customers doing impulsive things like wrapping themselves in a fluffy throw, spritzing their necks with a hand-mixed perfume, or indulging in a second sample of gourmet dark chocolate. But when a woman enthusiastically hugged a concrete garden deer, Zsori knew her business was on the right track. “My goal was to create an experience for people,” she explained to PoMo a few years back. “That’s just the sort of emotional connection I’m looking for.”
GIFTS This North Mississippi haven feels like the den of a hoarder—but a hoarder with the best taste in vintage, culture, and atmospheric ephemera. You could outfit a very styled and interesting life here: a mustard V-neck dress made from reworked vintage dead stock by Ark Reworks? Check. Cast-iron horsehead bottle openers and a vintage suitcase? Check, check. A wind-up singing bird cage, seductive small batch perfumes, and maybe a book on African American fashion from 1940s to the present? Mais, oui! Don’t leave without petting King, the shop cat and Flutter’s reigning monarch of memorabilia.
FANCY FOODS Beyond 120-plus varieties of gourmet salts, Mark Bitterman’s foodie mecca also stocks global artisan chocolates, aromatic cocktail bitters, and seasonal flowers. This is where you go to get the good stuff.
ART/GIFTS Part art gallery, part gift shop, this outgrowth of indie shopping website Buy Olympia lets you ogle goods from 100-plus Northwest artists—Nikki McClure calendars and issues of Craphound or Boss Babes coloring books, cute enamel pins, vividly illustrated vegan cookbooks, and Berkley Illustration corgi portraits. The Portlandia sketch “Put A Bird on It” was literally filmed here. But that’s just the tip of Land’s awesomely twee-feminist iceberg.
HEADS, TAILS, ETC. In search of a single alligator tooth? Perhaps a fossilized trilobite or a handful of glass eyes? This chic lair specializing in taxidermy—javelina heads to baby pufferfish—fossils, framed insects, science kits, jewelry, and plants has got your predilection covered. The whole thing feels a bit as if Chicago’s Field Museum met for high tea with Edward Gorey. In other words, terribly, terribly charming.
SHOES A stylish, no-fuss realm of clogs, boots, and flats, this self-styled “shoe Shangri-la” has a pair for nearly every need—Frye and Free People to Swedish Hasbeens, Kelsi Dagger, and Blundstones. Dude shoes, too. Bonus: socks, jewelry, totes, and everything else a Portlander can’t live without.
GARDEN Promising to supply “Country Living in the City,” this Mississippi nursery offers an adventurous selection of plants for inner city gardens, one-of-a-kind gifts from local artists, expert chicken advice, thriving houseplants, first-rate landscape design and installation services, and makings for oh-so-chic terrariums. Caution: the shop’s fuzzy baby chicks are so debilitatingly cute they cause hearts to burst from chests on a regular basis.
BAGS Spotting a Queen Bee bag on the street is as Portland as waiting for brunch or using a bridge being up as a tardiness excuse. The faux leather bags of all sizes, complete with signature embroidered art, are all made on-site at this neighborhood shop and carried by stockists nationwide.
TOYS, FOR ADULTs There are adult stores, and then there’s Portland’s own female- and queer-friendly sex toy boutique—a chic trove of eye-popping tomes, paraben-free lubes, and a rainbow of high-end vibrators and dildos overseen by a crew of frank, enthusiastic staffers who are down to help you discover, well, whatever works for you—BDSM gear to exercisers that are like vaginal Fitbits. Bonus: the shop’s private group store tours are the best educational titillation in town.
Sugar Wheel Works
BIKES Need some help building your dream bike? Jude Gerace can help. In 2009 she opened this custom operation, matching the perfect hand-built wheels to mountain bikers and all-weather commuters. “The wheels change what’s possible with your bike,” she says. “It’s like changing your shoes—the more stable you feel, the more power you can put into your turn.”
TOYS, FOR KIDS Spielwerk take the business of play seriously—its owners painstakingly staging a Waldorfian Santa’s workshop of hand-carved German beasts, catapults, and fluttering butterfly wings. Suspicious that toys produced in the 21st century with 19th-century technology will cost 25th-century prices? A lot of their gifts come in under $20. And the memories generated by perennial playthings like a canvas-sailed wooden boat? Priceless.
OUTDOOR GEAR If Poler Stuff’s irreverent hiking gear is getting too mainstream for your taste, head to its even hipper (and older) local counterpart. The highly curated shop carries stylish takes on outdoor essentials—think backpacks, pocketknives, and lanterns—as well as not-so-essentials like hand-whittled slingshots and campfire incense.