December 1st, 2010 RUTH BROWN | Special Section Stories
 

The West End

Shop here for: Painfully hip items you secretly wish you could keep for yourself.

     
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Alder and Co.


537 SW 12th Ave., 224-1647, alderandcoshop.com.
For that frustrating friend who has everything—including expensive tastes—this neighborhood newcomer offers gorgeous items you won’t find anywhere else, like Japanese linens, Ghanaian teapots and French thermometers. And for their similarly spoiled offspring, the store stocks a large selection of equally charming children’s products. I’ll bet the little brat doesn’t own an alpaca-wool-stuffed toy hand-knitted by an indigenous women’s cooperative in Bolivia.
Buy this: Nekko single-flower vase ($32).

Cacao


414 SW 13th Ave., 241-0656, cacaodrinkchocolate.com.
The confections in Cacao are a world away from the mass-produced junk on convenience-store shelves. From the blissfully bittersweet Oregon bark made only a few blocks away at Sahagún, to single-origin Claudio Corallo bars hand-grown on the tiny African island of Principe, Cacao trades in some of the finest chocolate in both Portland and the world.
Buy this: Pralus Pyramide des Tropiques ($48), Amedei Chuao ($13) Sahagún Luscious Caramels, ($3).

Canoe


1136 SW Alder St., 889-8545, canoeonline.net.
Canoe was one of the first stores to bring some sophistication to the West End, and five years on, it’s still stylin’. Less a homewares store and more a gallery of cutting-edge contemporary design, Canoe curates beautiful, functional objects from all over the planet into a Scandinavian-inspired wonderland of clean lines, matte finishes and funny foreign names.
Buy this: Akari table lamp ($105).

Flora


917 SW Washington St., 227-0586, florapdx.com.
A store for feminine creatures—and those who seek their favor—selling fancy soaps, organic soy candles, dainty necklaces, silk flowers, exotic teas and other high-end hippie products. It’s also the place to buy locally made Space Design terrariums. These eye-catching glass vessels are filled with cacti, twigs, moss, ferns and sea shells, and make for living, breathing, one-of-a-kind art installations.
Buy this: Le Palais des Thés hammam tea ($22).

Radish Underground


414 SW 10th Ave., 928-6435, radishunderground.com.
Antique furniture and steampunk decor set the tone at Radish Underground. The cozy little boutique houses a chic collection of indie designer clothing, accessories and art, but shines best for vintage-inspired design and reclaimed materials, like purses made from old bike tires, amplifiers made from vintage cigar boxes, crocheted neck ties and surprisingly suave totes made from basketball skins.
Buy this: Jonny Sport Kit Bag ($95).

Tender Loving Empire


512 SW 10th Ave., 243-5859, tenderlovingempire.com.
This tiny gallery may be a storefront for local record label Tender Loving Empire, but it’s also a treasure trove of quirky, handmade local art, jewelry, clothing and other assorted crafty goodies. After relocating from its even tinier digs in Northwest’s Slabtown district earlier this year, the store has become a destination for tourists and locals looking for uniquely Stumptown souvenirs that don’t involve the words “keep” or “weird,” and now carries items from over 250 different artists—about 85 percent of whom are local—with more coming in every week.“ We try to be a reflection of what’s going on [in Portland],” says Brianne Mees, co-owner with her husband, local musician Jared Mees. “Historically, there hasn’t been a ton of stuff, right here, downtown, that really represented that character, that flavor that people are coming to Portland to find.” Of course, you can also buy albums by Tender Loving Empire artists. The jacket covers are works of art in their own right, and each is helpfully labeled with similar, more famous artists—a concept we journalists find irritating and presumptuous when record companies do it in press releases, but a godsend when trying to buy something for our obscure-indie-folk-loving siblings.“We wanted to be accessible and to have a face and something physical in a world of digital [music] and stuff that just exists on a website somewhere,” says Mees. “It’s nice to be like, ‘I’m shopping for earrings—oh, and I picked up a CD, too!’”
Buy this: Cartoon Monster sailboat automata ($34), Friends and Friends of Friends compilation CD ($8).
 
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