Newly opened curio emporium Thee Lucky Bastards Antiquities & Desirables is a glorious jumble.
Cheeky, sumptuous works by notable local artists, including Matthew "Slim" Ableman, Jesse Reno and Melissa Monroe, hang near salvaged spectacles like antique optometrist chairs and functioning patrol car lights. The game-room corner houses both pinball machines and taxidermy. Within wide-ranging selections of clothing and home décor, you'll find daft hoarder assemblages (rationing coupons, trombone mutes), novelty artifacts unlikely to reappear ('50s radiation suit, '30s home planetarium) and oddities that perhaps never should have been—everything from Colonel Sanders-emblazoned tiki wear specially designed for a Hawaiian convention of KFC managers to "perversion paintings" from rodeo-clown portraitist George Crionas' private collection.
"We kinda wanted to bring Old Portland to New Portland," says owner Angelique Rochelle Davis. "We don't do a lot of kitsch unless it's unusual and funny. The focus is really supposed to be all killer, no filler. It's not your run-of-the-mill crap."
A native Portlander, Davis cut her teeth staffing seminal Portland resale shops Rock'n'Roll Fashions and Survival Surplus before heading to San Francisco in 1990 to study at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Around that time, Hello Kitty manufacturer Sanrio opened its flagship American outlet in nearby Union Square. Surprised by the poor reception, representatives of the iconic Japanese brand approached the school's commercial space planning department about a student competition.
"I sat in their space and watched everyone," Davis says. "Finally, when I was ready to pack up, I saw this really tall guy over by the window. It occurred to me that everyone else who came in was, like, in the 4-foot range. Everything was merchandized to Western standards, and that's why the shop was losing money. Sanrio actually approached me before I graduated to offer me a job—the first 'corporate visual consultant' in the history of their company."
Eventually, Davis moved to Edward Martinez Fabrications, where she worked with tastemaker clients like Tiffany and Hermès, and Graphic Blade Studio, which led to a stint as project manager for Gap's Old Navy launch.
"My résumé looks really good," Davis says, "but it doesn't matter, because I always go back to this anyway. I like to buy and sell. I love to pick. I get my religion at the flea market. I love old stuff—simple, quality, strange, I guess, old stuff. I don't even keep a container if I don't like the looks of it. My house is a beautiful mess."
After ongoing landlord disputes forced the closure of her prior venture, Atomic Antiques & Fluff, she'd been talking about starting a new brick-and-mortar when a friend told them about this cavernous LoBu storefront—a former Studebaker dealership lying disused beneath the second-floor Ship A Dick factory.
Among the most thrillingly diverse stretch of Portland's lower eastside, where the Norse Hall and Vacuum Cleaner Museum claps back against encroaching boutique Icelandic hostels and Fair-Haired Dumbbells, the store fits perfectly. Weeks away from its grand opening, the 5,000-square-foot space remains a work in progress. But Davis stresses she intends the shop to be "different than your classic little divided antique mall."
"There won't be any walls between spaces. We're doing a family thing here," she says. "We've been so fortunate with the vendors we have in place, and they're supported and relaxed and free to explore. We wanted to at least try doing a place sans all the separated compartmentalization we hated. We wanted a tribe."
SHOP: Thee Lucky Bastards Antiquities & Desirables, 521 NE Davis St.