Business is booming in Portland, but these days it's got more to do with boutiques and small plates than it does lumber and microbrew. Within the past year we've gone from maybe three main drag shopping strips (NW 23rd, SE Hawthorne, NE Alberta) to five, with the now-buzzing areas of E Burnside and N Mississippi continuing to add shops, bars, and hip restaurants. Up north on Mississippi, the latest shopping option is about to open its doors: Amalee, a new store set up in the former digs of Duchess at 909 N Beech, Ste, A, will open for business this Friday, May 4.
Owned by a trio—young married couple Leeann and Todd Molinari, with Amanda Senten—the store's name comes from a combination of the first parts of Amanda and Leeann's name. These two are the fashion sense of the venture while Todd brings his experience working in finance to the business end of the bargain. With some retail experience, Leeann and Amanda were on their way to design careers, interior and apparel, respectively, when they decided to "put the cart before the horse," as Amanda likes to say, and open a shop first—something she'd always pictured doing down the road, but didn't expect to be happening at the tender age of 22.
Amanda and Leeann share a similar style aesthetic, both being attracted to vintage-inspired, classic looks that have a modern twist. Plus they are stocking the store with items that aren't found elsewhere in town, while keeping their price point on the low end. Fans of the high/low method of dressing, where you pair a $5 vintage shirt with a high-end pair of shoes, the team behind Amalee is sympathetic to the desire to shop frequently without busting the bank. Some of the lines that have them particularly excited are Orion, a London line of mod dresses and flowy tops made from vintage fabrics—original pieces to be had in the $100 range—as well as some very cute, simple but slightly funky goods from KKoni, Scrapbook, Interloo, Smitten, High Street, Matty M, and Apple Tree.
They will also be housing some independent lines, such as Mother Trucker, which works an environmental angle using bamboo-cotton blends, and will be the exclusive Portland retailer of a new clothing line by up-and-coming Austin artist Alyson Fox (Fox's work also decorates the store's interior and is incorporated in the Amalee logo). Among the jewelry offerings, former Portland-based Lish contributes some colorful earrings, and Hardware by Renee (out of Oregon City), shows up in cuff bracelets made from recycled tin cans—a proposition that is much chicer in person than it sounds. Though Amalee won't be stocking any vintage clothing, the affection they have for older pieces will show up in a smattering of accessories: Vintage jewelry and purses.
With Pin Me directly next door, the idiosyncratic Blue around the corner, the very girly and higher-end Phlox up the street, hippie-chick Gypsy Chic, and urban streetwear Sameunderneath all in the near vicinity, Amalee is a welcome new stop to make on the beaten path. With a range of styles and price ranges, N Mississippi has officially solidified as a shopping destination worthy of its other competing neighborhoods in the city, and Amalee is more than happy to get into the community spirit. One of the secret weapons of the store's space is that it is equipped with a full kitchen, which they plan to use for small events, with Todd dropping hints about "wine and cheese." Help them kick off the first party, their grand opening slated for sometime in early June, and in the meantime, stop in and see what's next on Mississippi.
So many stores, so little time: firstname.lastname@example.org