Contributor: Amber D’Ambrosio
So you want to bring back souvenirs of your time in Portland, but you don’t want to be limited to the overpriced sweatshirts of the airport shops? Luckily for you, there are many opportunities to buy unique Oregon gifts (or just do some shopping!) in Portland.
One of the tried and true is the Made in Oregon stores. You can find them in PDX as well as throughout the city. You can buy a wide variety of items made from Oregon produce, everything from marionberry jam to bigfoot poop (chocolate covered peanuts). They also carry many local coffees, beers, wines, and gift baskets. In addition to food and beverages, their selection includes Pendleton Woolen Mill blankets and other Oregon craft items along with sports apparel and memorabilia for the Timbers, Trailblazers, and college teams. The two closest locations to the conference will be the one in the Pioneer Place Mall and the one in the Lloyd Center Mall (more details on those two shopping destinations below).
The University of Oregon Ducks Store and the Oregon State University Beaver Store are the destinations for those of you with college sports fans in your life who identify as either ducks or beavers. If you don’t know what it means to be a duck or a beaver, these stores may not be of much interest to you. You can also buy a selection of these items at the Made in Oregon stores.
The Portland Saturday Market is a must-see shopping destination for anyone staying over for the weekend (it’s also open on Sundays). North Waterfront Park and the adjoining streets becomes a sea of stalls that includes local art, jewellry, handmade soaps, crafts, and food vendors.
Looking for the truly unique and willing to take the bus? Check out the Freakbuttrue Peculiarium and Museum or Paxton Gate for the macabre and things you might expect to find in a creative taxidermist’s basement in Victorian era England. If you need a better mental image of Paxton Gate try “if David Lynch and Martha Stewart got together and opened up a home decorating store” or “come for the cat skeletons wearing fancy dresses, stay for the preserved insects.” (Quotes from Jenny Collins, librarian and archivist at SUNY Delhi and avid fan of Paxton Gate.)
On the less-macabre-but-still-requiring-a-bus end of unique shopping, try Presents of Mind for gifts from local and independent designers that are made with environmentally friendly materials.
Also, try shopping at the Multnomah County Library Central Library (worth a trip for the beautiful building alone) Friends of the Library Store. It has a selection of small and quirky Oregon and Portland gifts (and library-themed gifts as well!), including amusing cards to send to all of your friends and family.
If you’re looking for general shopping opportunities, downtown Portland has plenty of options, including two major malls: Lloyd Center Mall and Pioneer Place Mall. There are also no shortage of outdoor retailers in downtown Portland for anyone who wants to hit the trails while they’re in Oregon.