Generally speaking, I hate shopping. I feel skirmish and stressed in big department stores, where carts crowd the aisles and unpleasant cashiers shove clothes into shiny plastic bags. By the time I make my exit, I feel drained and slightly disheveled. In addition to my aversion to careless consumption, I’m also extremely frugal. I sell my clothes for extra cash (this usually pans out to $5–thanks a lot, Buffalo Exchange) and I try to buy sparingly. As we all know, it’s easy to spend money and hard to earn it. For these reasons and more, the concept of shopping is usually a scary one.
There are a few shops around town that never fail to make me smile. These are the places where I dance alone in the dressing room as I button up tops and pull on thick sweaters, rather than hurriedly check out so I can avoid the experience altogether. These are the stores I frequent time and time again, often not buying anything at all. They’re full of Portland-made goodness and lesser known brands that make you feel equal parts confident and cool. Without further adieu, here they are…
If you’ve been to Wildfang, you already know it’s too awesome to describe. (What else would you expect from a brand that Megan Rapinoe and Ellen Page rep?) This store is run by a pack of bad-ass babes who own tomboy style and have no qualms about swearing up a storm. Suffice it to say, I always feel welcome and happy here. The clothes they carry are incredibly well-curated, and while their aesthetic may seem partial to androgynous style, anyone can find a great piece here. If you need a boost of self-esteem (as I often do while shopping), you can count on the Wildfang sales associates to deliver. These girls are possibly too good at their job, dolling out compliments like it’s nobody’s business. If you’re on the lookout for something fun and irreverent, keep Wildfang on your radar.
2403 NW Thurman St
Perhaps I’m biased since this store is a block away from my apartment, but betsy & iya is easily my favorite jewelry store in town. You can find their pieces pretty much anywhere in Portland, but their brick and mortar store is worth the trip. Their workshop is located in the back of the store, so you can see them making the jewelry firsthand. I love this store because it’s actually quite affordable and the pieces are both unique and timeless. If you’re looking for something special, minimalist, and specifically “Portland,” this is the spot for you.
2804 SE Ankeny St
I used to make a ritual of grabbing a frothy latte from Crema and heading across the street to Wanderlust. When describing this store, “quant” and “lovely” are the adjectives that come to mind. While it may be small in size, it’s offering of adorable and mostly local items more than makes up for it. This is my one-stop-shop for Christmas and birthday gifts. It was here I discovered one of my favorite bath and body brands, Whiskey Ink & Lace, and purchased my first dress in nearly a year. Their re-purposed, vintage clothing tends to be more feminine, with a robust display of dresses decorating the racks. Don’t overlook this hidden gem that will take you back in time.