Baseball's Portland Pickles Open a Team Store Downtown
The Silver Guy is a frequent sight in downtown Portland. So, depending on the state of the world, is a black-clad protester. But starting this week there’s a new monochromatic figure downtown, looming at the intersection of SW Taylor and Second: Dillon the Pickle.
The ever-smiling Dillon—a strong, silent type, a once and future presidential candidate, and, yes, a pickle—is the mascot for the Portland Pickles summer collegiate wood-bat baseball team and the inspiration for the Pickle Jar, a new shop and event space (130 SW Taylor St) opening November 16, with a grand opening celebration planned for Saturday, November 20.
“We’ve always wanted to have a larger presence in Portland,” says team co-owner Alan Miller. In a former Starbucks a block off the MAX Line, the Pickle Jar is part lounge, part team store. It sells Dillon bobbleheads, mini-bats, “Keep Pickles Weird” tees, pet clothing, three-quarter-sleeve baseball shirts from the team’s recent trip to Mexico, and both new and game-worn (but sanitized!) jerseys from theme nights and collaborations, including one with soccer hangout Toffee Club/Away Days Brewing. Instead of foam fingers, there are foam chairs to raise up in celebration, a tradition started after a pitcher in the bullpen in the inaugural 2016 season raised an upside-down chair over his head and danced to celebrate a teammate’s hit.
The Pickles are based at Walker Stadium in Lents Park in Southeast Portland but have fans all over the city—“and across the country, the way our merchandise sales look,” says general manager Ross Campbell. The shop is a way to extend the team’s geographic footprint, and also to stretch the calendar.
“We miss everybody,” Miller says of the time the Pickles aren’t playing. “We want to be able to activate on the offseason and do things that are really fun with the community.”
The Pickle Jar, says Campbell, “is an event space, a concert venue, comedy—anything you can think of, we’re probably going to give it a go.” While the pop-up is planned to last at least three months, Campbell and Miller both say they hope to stick around, and they say their mission is about more than baseball and selling “Just Dill With It” T-shirts.
“With the past couple of years, things have been challenging, and it just seemed like a really great opportunity working with downtown Portland to bring life back to the city,” Miller says. “For us, we saw that there’s a great challenge in perception of what’s been happening with downtown." He says the team is excited to shine a light on downtown as a great place to hang out, with incredible bars and restaurants—"and it’s not what, you know, people around the world are hearing about on the news every night.” Miller says. “Whether you’ve been a Pickles fan for a while, or you’ve never heard of us, this will be a really cool, creative way to learn about our team, our league, our city.”
And that learning experience might also come with photo op with a new friend. Says Campbell: “You never know if the day you come is a day Dillon will show up at the shop.”