Portland’s Best-Kept Shopping Secret Is Hidden in Plain Sight
Did you know that the newest, delightfulest Portland shopping destination is hidden off North Williams, a narrow alley bursting with vintage stores and clothing designers and artists, a hair salon, and a delightful wine tasting room to boot? You’re not the only one. Word about Canyons Alley—right across the street from the N Williams New Seasons, with entrances off N Ivy and N Fremont—has been slow to trickle out, and even the hordes flocking to Eem and Kayos and Life of Pie just a block or two north are unaware of what they’re missing out on.
But since November 2021, this spot—modeled after Japanese yokochos, according to the website, which are tiny Tokyo alleyways lined with izakayas and bars—has been stealthily growing some of the coolest independent businesses, many with a focus on sustainability and locally produced goods. Here’s the low down on what you can find there.
One of the newer stores in the alleyway, Alley Thrift occupies an alley corner spot on Ivy street, and opens its doors for the first time this week. A peek into the space revealed a treasure trove of colorful, stylish second hand and vintage items and bright pops of locally made jewelry, with promises of plants and furniture to come. Bonus? Co-owner Casey DePanhger says Alley Thrift plans to rent racks to business or individuals who want to sell in the store. 2–7 p.m., Wed–Sun
DePangher is the owner of Alchemy Plants, one of the alley’s original occupants which moved spaces and now anchors another prime Ivy street spot. Think glorious green-foliage and plenty of low-maintenance options for novices. “I was getting into plants myself and felt there was a lot of elitism and lack of accessibility with plants,” says DePangher of the store’s founding ethos. These days, she says, they’ve upped their game. “We’ve gotten a bit more creative with plants but it’s all sourced from the Pacific Northwest.” The space also allows other local makers to sell their wares in exchange for shopkeeping, so keep an eye out for the bright, beautiful fabrics hanging between the greens. 2-7 p.m., Wed–Sun
A recent addition to the alley, the women-owned Colour Collective opened in September, touting “self care for your home and body.” Boasting locally made home goods, and self care products with a focus on clean ingredients and low waste, here’s where you’ll find everything from natural face serums to period underwear to plants to wooden spoons and more. 1–5 p.m., Thu–Sun
Portland Flea Market frequenters may already be familiar with the thrift and vintage delights of Garden Party, an expertly curated collection of brightly colored garments. On a recent trip, color-coded racks exploded with squee-inducing finds: an orange lambswool double breasted blazer? Yes please. Eighties-style suede purple dress? Also a must-have. 1–5 p.m., Fri–Sat
Art Larger Than Me
An artist studio slash gallery slash store, Daren Todd’s graphic, bold creations adorn the walls, alongside art from other creators. If the price of the art is out of your reach, grab one of the Art Larger Than Me water bottles, enamel mugs, totes, or tees. You can also commission work from Todd for a particular space or of a particular subject, as well as your own colorway-painted Nike Air Force Ones. Opening hours vary
Another brand new addition to the alley, GC’s new tasting room provides the perfect mid-alley sitdown spot for refreshments before you complete your alley run. With a tasting room in the Eola-Amity Hills, the winery—formerly known as Grochau Cellars—recently opened its city spot in this 17-seat, warm and modern space, complete with handmade wooden bar, and an intimate—like, teeny—backyard seating space with a fire. Wine flights, bottle lists, draft beer, and snacks are all available, and guests can also bring in food from nearby N Williams eateries (Life of Pie + Gamay Noir = Yes Please.) 4–8 p.m., Fri–Sat; 2–6 p.m. Sun
Originally on Vancouver, Marty Jean moved to Canyons Alley late last year and has prospered in the new space, which sells her own particular brand of designed and made-in-Portland “work pyjamas.” Think sweat pants, rompers, slouchy tees and tops, all made by Jean in natural fabrics with minimal environmental impact. With body positivity front and center, sizes run the gamut, and Jean also creates bespoke pieces if you can’t find the right fit. Thu–Sat, 12–6
Ryan Obermeyer Gallery
This Portland artists has a spacious gallery showing his own paintings, hosting events, selling clothes, and screen-printing in the store for guests who bring their own apparel. 1-5 p.m., Thu, Fri, Sun