24 June, 2013

My vintage shopping trip to Portland!

Portland Center for the Performing Arts - Alrlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

I recently came back from a vintage shopping trip to the US and had the most amazing time. First stop was Portland - a city I have been wanting to visit for a few years now. As my fellow vintage lovers would know, there is a very good vintage scene there and a number of my favourite etsy sellers (eg FabGabs) and bloggers (Vixen Vintage) are based there. It also has a lovely 'real' store called 'Xtbay Vintage' (which also has an etsy site, but the main store is the physical spot in the suburbs of Portland).

First stop, I stayed away from the city centre, in a B&B called 'Clinton Guest House'. I always trawl through Tripadvisor for quirky places to stay. This time around the boutique hotels were out of my price range, but I am glad I stayed at Clinton Guest house as it was lovely and quiet and the breakfasts were divine. I always enjoy having breakfast with fellow travellers and getting some inside knowledge of the area and my hosts were great. I think the lady thought I was funny though because I was talking about how I was on a vintage shopping trip, yet I wore the same cardigan every day (this is explained by the fact that I totally underpacked thinking it would be hot, but it was in fact very cold!). The area where the guesthouse is located was lovely - the residents obviously take great pride in their houses and gardens . . . 
Cnr of SE Clinton and Cesar

Portland is also quite an environmentally-friendly town, and lots of people ride bikes. I went on a bike tour on my first day there, and it was obvious that cycling is highly thought of in the city - with bike lanes everywhere and lots of facilities for cyclists.
Portland celebrates bicycles!

Unfortunately it was raining for most of the time I was in Portland (which I understand is very common there, I think I read it rains something like 250 days of the year!). It is nice gentle rain, but just enough to deter me from getting out my camera. These shots were taken on my last day when the sun came out . . .

Anyway, back to most important thing - vintage! I visited some great stores - first stop Xtbay where I got a lovely 40s dress (only $120 thank you) and an amazing Vera Maxwell dress and coat ensemble. The latter is very Betty Draper.
I will have to get a proper outfit shot of me wearing this ensemble so you can see what it looks like properly, but you can see it is a great abstract print - which is matched by the lining in the jacket. I love this sort of ensemble and so snapped it up when I saw it in the shop. Xtabay is well worth a visit if you are in Portland - everything is clean and well-ordered and the owner has some fantastic items. I also thought the prices were very reasonable considering the quality of the garments (although I am from Australia where vintage is very expensive).

Some more bargains. . . 

A Samsonite hat box (with the previous owners initials stencilled at the top - love!). I purchased this at a nondescript antique warehouse I was going past on my walk at the edge of the city centre - and it was only $45 - again a steal in Australian terms - these normally go for $150 or thereabouts in shops!

(excuse the errant red shoe in the above photo!)

And of course, no shopping trip would be complete without a lucite bag. This one is a Dorset Rex and although the leather shows a bit of wear, it is fabulous. When I get home to Australia I will hunt down some leather wear to match this colour (possibly?!) and hopefully I can rejuvenate the leather a bit. If not, it is still great! (and again a great price at $40). I purchased this at Magpie Vintage in the city centre, which was also a great store.

There is a great online guide to vintage in Portland, at Vintage shopping Portland guide (complete with maps).
In addition to the shops I mentioned above, I would also recommend

- Decades Vintage - small shop but full of reasonably-priced, well cared for vintage items - good mix of mens and women's and some nice lucite bags and jewellery

I visited a couple of others which were just so-so. Ray's Ragtime for instance, had a lot of vintage, but not much in the way of 'quality vintage' and anything half-decent was hanging up near the ceiling. Not a fan of that.

I tried to make it to Lulu's Vintage which regularly wins awards, but it only opens on Saturdays so I missed out on that. The shop looks quite cute from the outside, but fairly small.

So all in all, my vintage shopping experience in Portland was great - the shops are all easily accessible by foot or public transport and the prices are very reasonable. As a girl who loves her etsy, it was actually really nice to be able to shop in a 'real store' and try on things before buying them. Although I will continue to buy things on etsy (of course!) my recent trip made me fall in love all over again with bricks and mortar stores. I find that when I shop like this I buy things which fit perfectly and therefore which I get great wear out of.

Stay tuned for a little bit more of Portland (importantly a run down on the best happy hour spots!) and then on to LA vintage shopping. . . .


  1. I love Portland!!!
    I could just about vomit with envy over that Samsonite hat box AND the sweet Lucite bag.
    Hawthorne had some great vintage shops,if I remember rightly. X

  2. Thanks Helga. Unfortunately i didnt make it to Hawthorne for vintage but I hear it is good. Thanks for reading!