63 Things Every Portlander Must Do

Must Do: Shop

Go shopping for some of Portland's most desired commodities: costumes, with help from Alicia J. Rose; plants, with help from Elizabeth Beekley; records, with help from Jay Martin; and fabric, with the help of Bill Crane.

By Karen Brooks July 15, 2010 Published in the August 2010 issue of Portland Monthly

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A vinyl devotee tunes in at Mississippi Records.

Image: Dan Cronin

Join the Vinyl Revolution

BY DAY, Jay Martin develops athletic apparel for the S Group, a creative collective with global clients. By night, he spins his American roots music as DJ HWY 7. At last count, Martin’s record collection numbered 10,000, including rare, valuable, and out-of-production records—from work by outsider folk stylist Abner Jay to highly collectible punk from the Los Angeles Free Music Society group.

In the iTunes age, record stores around the country are vanishing, but Martin’s hometown is a haven (with no fewer than four stores producing local bands on vinyl through their own small labels). The Ace Hotel, Portland’s unofficial hipster chamber of commerce, has turntables in its deluxe rooms. There’s so much here, says Martin, you can spend an entire day going from store to store, each a different experience.


Mississippi Records: A major destination for enthusiasts from the global record universe, Mississippi is known by both collectors and musicians for its communal warmth and neighborhood charm, and its highly regarded eclectic vinyl-issue record label. And, of course, the motto: “Always—Love Over Gold.” 4007 N Mississippi Ave; 503-282-2990

2nd Avenue Records: A local institution with a veteran staff, this is the place to find hidden treasures from Portland’s bygone punk days, along with great metal, hip-hop, and reggae. 400 SW Second Ave; 503-222-3783

Crossroads Music: The record buyer’s equivalent to a farmers market, Crossroads Music boasts more than 30 independent dealers in one space. It’s a must-visit for the sheer volume and the unpredictability of what you might find. 3130 SE Hawthorne Blvd; 503-232-1767; xro.com

Exiled Records: Owners Scott Simmons and Lindsey Thrasher have the inside track on everything unique and obscure at this newish shop, known especially for psychedelic rock and avant-garde releases. 4628 SE Hawthorne Blvd; 503-232-0751

Geek Out on Garden Plants

PORTLAND’S NEXT-GENERATION gardeners are swapping the manicured yards, rhodies, and roses in favor of medicinal herbs, culinary oddities, wild peonies, trilliums, and other native plants typically seen only by hikers in the deep woods. It’s a credo that also prizes space: whether in a front yard or a parking strip, every bit of soil can be grown for beauty and usefulness. Elizabeth Beekley, owner of tiny baking kingdom Two Tarts, captures the zeitgeist at her Northwest Portland store, where she planted a narrow, 30-foot-long stone-stacked herb garden out front with seven kinds of basil and lemon balm to perfume her two-bite cookies and glorious small-batch ice cream. She even grows hops for homebrewing. “Like butchers,” she says, “we’re using every inch of ground with a purpose.”


Mostly Medicinals: Laura Alt-vater, the perennials buyer at renowned Portland Nursery, runs an off-the-clock business stocked with intriguing, hard-to-find woodland and medicinal plants, from arnica to blue cohosh. Open Saturday 2–5 or by appointment. mostlymedicinals.com

Blue Heron Herbary: Venture out to Sauvie Island for this great stash of familiar herbs and discoveries, including orange-ginger mint, scented geraniums, and all kinds of crazy basils. 27731 NW Reeder Rd; blueheronherbary.com

Joy Creek Nursery: Mike Smith designs gardens for Portland’s movers and shakers, but he also pokes around in his own amazing exhibition garden. Visit and he’ll offer sage advice. 20300 NW Watson Rd, Scappoose; joycreek.com

Get Crafty

In the ever-uphill climb of arts organizations, Bill Crane is the little engine that could, having raised millions for Portland Baroque Orchestra, PSU’s School of Fine and Performing Arts, and, most recently, the Oregon Symphony. In 2009, after 25 years of what he calls “deranged needlepointing,” Crane joined Portland’s quilt nation, a growing tribe of virtuosos and indie rebel grrrls pushing sewing machines in surprising new directions. In the past 16 months, he has made more than a dozen quilts with brick-size blocks of shifting stripes, frolicking-sock-monkey designs and patchworks of American Bowling Congress emblems. “This field has lots of dreck, many virtuosos, and a certain amount of good design sense,” Crane observes. “It requires lots of patience. Some of these folks have Job beat by a long way.”


Local guilds: In need of inspiration? Crane suggests surfing northwestquilters.org, one of the 40-odd guilds in the state. Check out the trio of ladies who stitched up a quilted “cozy” for a Volkswagen bug showcased at the Spring Quilt Show 2010. “Astounding,” says Crane.

Fabric Depot: Quilters travel from all over the country to take in the daunting acre-and-a-half of fabric bolts. Plan to meet disconcertingly cheerful fellow sewing fanatics ready to help—the wackier your project, the better. Beginners: Sign up for a class with quilting maestra Julie Foglio. 700 SE 122nd Ave. fabricdepot.com

Josephine’s Dry Goods: A secret source. Remarkably old fashioned, but the owners have an eye for well-designed stuff, all of it extremely good quality, and the prices are right. 521 SW 11th Ave. josephinesdrygoods.com

Play Dress Up

COSTUMES ARE NOT JUST for Halloween in Portland. Try the annual Red Dress Party or the Worst Day of the Year Ride or just a mob of mummies sauntering downtown. Photographer Alicia J. Rose has done much to broadcast this local cultural tendency with her highly costumed photo shoots and videos for such seminal Portland bands as the Decemberists, Viva Voce, and Menomena. Inspiration may come from all the hats she herself wears as photographer/video director/talent procurer for Mississippi Studios; accordionist; and drummer—a career that has “a lot of slashes” on its own, she laughs. “I’ve always been about putting on a show.”


Alicia J. Rose dives into the rabbit hole at Hollywood Portland Costumers.


Helen’s Pacific Costumers: Rose calls this one of the best old-school venues around—it’s not about Halloween here, but real-deal costumes. “You can get a Civil War uniform here,” she says. Plus, they rent. 7501 NE Glisan St; helenspacificcostumers.com

Hollywood Portland Costumers: “They have every mustache under the sun,” says Rose. “Great stage makeup, and a terrific wig selection.” 635 SE Hawthorne Blvd; hollywoodportlandcostumers.com

Flutter: This vintage home décor boutique offers a curated collection of objects ranging from chandeliers to candy. “Everything feels like a curio,” says Rose. 3948 N Mississippi Ave; flutterclutter.com

“The Bins” at Goodwill: You buy stuff—that’s right, people’s stuff—by the pound. It’s not sorted. “You want to play a creepy housewife or an eccentric architect or a confused lumberjack?” Rose asks. “Go to the Bins.” 1740 SE Ochoco St; meetgoodwill.org

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