Austin native Currie Person worked on feature films in New York and Paris before returning home to Texas with a longing for those little neighborhood shops that housed timeless home goods. In 2008, she opened her own 400-square-foot space, Spartan Shop, in Austin and watched it bloom before her eyes. Now, she aims to do it again, bringing her home goods shop to a second storefront here in Portland, at 1210 SE Grand Avenue.
What led you to open a storefront in Portland?
While on a road trip six years ago, my husband and I fell in love with Portland at first sight and decided to relocate here, keeping the storefront in Austin and moving the headquarters of our quickly expanding online shop to Portland.
We decided to wait until we knew Portland and had established a community before thinking about a opening a location here. Last fall, we happened upon a gorgeous corner property in Industrial Southeast, which included an ideal workspace for our online HQ, as well as a lovely shop floor with two 14-foot walls of windows facing the west hills. We had enough room to offer a wider selection of furniture, lighting, rugs and fine art, as well as ample space for hosting talks, fundraisers, dinners, art shows and other events.
Portland and Austin both call themselves “weird” cities. Has this led to similar clientele?
Portland and Austin have a lot of similarities—amazing food culture, vibrant art and music scenes, progressive politics. Both have a contagious, friendly energy that really draws people in. We have a fairly diverse clientele in both cities. I would have a difficult time describing the "typical Spartan Shop customer,” but we often talk about how fortunate we are to have such an interesting, easygoing group of people passing through the store. I think we have all made friends and met some outstanding people while working on the shop floor.
What makes Spartan unique?
Our guiding principals are quality, longevity, artistry, and simplicity. We pride ourselves on building longstanding relationships with designers and with our customers. We believe in buying fewer things that are beautifully made and meant to last—pieces that have a story and can often serve multiple purposes in your home.
How do you source your pieces?
We represent many Portland artists and designers in addition to sourcing from other parts of the United States and around the world. We are in the process of developing exclusive collaborative pieces with a few of our favorite designers as well.
How has business been so far?
We have been very pleasantly surprised! The shop is a bit off the beaten path so we assumed it might take a while for our customers to find us, but fortunately that has not been the case. The world of social media spreads the word quickly these days and having the big windows definitely helps to draw curious passersby in.
What else should we know?
The new shop in Portland has proved to be a fantastic space for hosting events—we are starting to fill our calendar for the coming year with art shows, fundraisers, discussions, book launches, dinners, etc. Wednesday, June 28 we are holding an open house to showcase lighting, furniture and rugs, as well as an art opening for Ashley Garmon’s large-scale landscape photographs. Sunday, July 9 we will be hosting a book launch and fundraiser for Project Grow featuring Julia Sherman and her new book Salad for President.
Last month our lease was up in Austin, and although we spent two years looking, we couldn’t find a new space in Austin that suited our needs. We decided to close that shop and open a studio for creative consulting focused mostly in the hospitality industry called Spartan Studio, based here in Portland.