Grant, 36, is the owner and one of two employees at Grant Michael Industrial, a place as obscure and esoteric as its founder. (The other employee is his brother.) “People either absolutely love or hate me," Grant says, with trademark moxie. "One customer complained about leaving my studio with filthy hands—and it’s like, where do you come from? Of course your hands are dirty. You came to a warehouse and bought antique industrial products!”
Grant bellows while walking around his warehouse. The man dresses sharp: boots, long trench coat with thick buttons, a loose beanie and a button-up shirt. He is clearly is the ring-leader of his own circus. “This is definitely one of my passions," he says as he stalks his domain. “I never buy anything off of Craigslist, I hardly ever go to estate sales, and I don’t shop thrift stores.”
Grant Michael Industrial is best described as folk-art, vintage, custom and grassroots. Grant learned this trade from his father. “My father was a junker, picking up scraps and sheet metal from farms and such," he relates. "And so I started hustlin’ old toys out of my basement when I was 12 years old."
Grant designs restaurants, rooms in houses, bars—you name it and he will create, and he has done so all over Portland. “For every 10 restaurants that go up in this town, there’s about one that uses me," he says, before launching into his wider thoughts on interior design. "The problem with restaurants here is they are in love with 500 gallons of black paint, three Edison light bulbs and a barn board. That’s not industrial! When you put in the really high-end bases, tables, décor and lighting, that’s when the soul starts showing, that’s what identifies a character, a person, a space."
Some of his most distinctive products are a 7.5-foot tall grizzly bear, an old airplane, three huge arrow signs from New Orleans, an old golf cart, and a 400-foot bar made out of a stripped bowling alley. “This is all I really know," he says. "Every single thing you see in here is 100% purist, it’s all vintage, and I don’t do anything unless it’s vintage.”
Editor's note: Not long after we published this piece, the national news website Daily Beast offered this profile of Grant Chisholm, detailing his activities as an evangelical street preacher.