You've anticipated it for months: the annual flight from cosmopolitan Portland back to your humble holiday homestead in Iowa, Oklahoma, or Chico, Calif. But between baling up dirty laundry and last-minute grog-fests, you forgot to buy gifts for Mom, Dad and those greasy little rugrat cousins of yours. Luckily, the Oregon Market at Portland International Airport has sleighfuls of priceless keepsakes that will announce your discerning taste without screaming "last-minute." Yes, the world of concourse commerce goes way beyond shot glasses and myrtlewood jewelry. Many stores, anticipating the rush, have laden their shelves with stylish, packable stocking stuffers. These chic and compact gifts beat the bejeezus out of that half-eaten bag of beer nuts you gave Dad last year.
Proud & Prejudicial
The family back home will be curious about "Or-y-gone," so sidestep the pinot noir jelly jars and give gifts with real local flavor. Although it looks stuffy on the outside, the Made In Oregon Pendleton Shop (282-7827) has great gifts that exude "omigod-it's-from-Oregon!" pride: saddle-shaped-state cedar closet sachets ($3.95 for three--now they'll be able to find you on a map!) or zip pouches made from Pendleton blankets ($19.50). Want to give rocks? River stone and silver jewelry from Janice Lee Ripley (The Real Mother Goose, 284-9929) looks better than it sounds. And starting at $35, it sure beats coal.
Seeking pieces that are untraceable to Puddletown? Gifts from multi-outlet megaliths like Nike and Norm Thompson can be conveniently returned continent-wide at any store branch. Consider a wool herringbone blazer (made in Slovakia) at Norm Thompson (249-0170) for $139. In a pinch, your dirt-bag beau can be presentable for that all-important meet-the-folks moment. Cashmere scarves in camel, powder blue or heather gray are pricey, but well worth the $99. Satisfy sporty siblings with a frost-blue-and-white Bounce backpack from the Nike store ($30, 284-3558), or a skiwear-styled, periwinkle-and-gray half-zip ACG sweater ($75). Make Mom's next ice-fishing trip more comfortable with an easy-to-pack nylon-and-fleece headband, gloves and scarf set ($34).
Your kid sis will wonder where the hell you got a cigar-box handbag ($108, Pendleton). Made from cedar cigar boxes, these Ghost World-grows-up clutches have velvet linings, bamboo handles, and brass fittings and protective corners. For the wee ones, drop the books and grab a plush costume hat from the ever-popular Powell's Kids Corner ($21, 249-1950). The gold lamé and red faux-fur Roman Soldier is only upstaged by the white-and-silver astronaut helmet (complete with NASA patches and mission-control microphone).
Just in the Slick of Time
Norm Thompson is one of very few places where you can buy Royall Bay Rhum cologne (made in Hamilton, Bermuda, and bottled with a bay leaf in handmade glass flacons). A 4-ounce bottle is only $35 and smells like chai, tobacco and Clark Gable. At Powell's Books, Dirty Girl lip gloss is $12, while a travel kit (which bundles a full-size Citron Bomb lip balm with two mini-bars of soap, a mini-tube of body wash and sparkle cream) is $20. To send a slightly stronger message, give your sister-in-law "Bitch," "Slut" or "Obsessive Compulsive" powdered body detergent ($5.95 at Powell's)--it's a dead ringer for laundry soap, but so much more thoughtful.
A wrapped gift is sure to stall you at a security checkpoint. What's more, the spectacle of airport staff picking at your Scotch tape and Snoopy paper to see what's inside might just melt your snowglobe. Instead, head to the Paper Station (335-3339) and buy rolls of Christmas and Hanukkah wrapping paper for $2.50-$3.50 a sheet. Roll 'em up in your carry-on.
Most of the dozen-plus stores are open from 6 am to 9 pm every day.
"Holidays Take Flight"
PDX's second annual holiday blowout runs Dec. 2 through Dec. 24 and includes live music, store discounts, and lunch- hour food and wine tastings.
For those who like to shop without getting wet, the Airport MAX Red Line service runs from PDX's baggage- claim area to downtown Portland roughly every 15 minutes from 5 am until 11:35 pm, 365 days a year. A one- way trip takes 38 minutes and costs $1.55.