The shops and studios of 811 E Burnside are continuing their seemingly endless games of musical chairs, but don't get me wrong—I'm not complaining. Over recent years the evolving configuration of tenants has created one of the most interesting hubs of commerce in town. Affordable move-in costs and rent have made myriad experimental business plans possible, turning stores and hybrid workspaces into some of the quirkiest shopping experiences available in Portland. Holly Stalder is a perfect example of the typical 811 tenant, in that the location of her new shop, Haunt (Ste. 113)—opened with partner Laura Irwin of Precious Knit—is now the third consecutive space she's occupied in the building.
Stalder, and to a lesser extent Irwin, are associated most closely in Portland retail history with the original incarnation (and first two locations) of Seaplane, before Stalder and cofounder Kate Towers sold the business in 2008. At the time, Seaplane had been long established as the de facto capitol building of Portland independent fashion, although by the end visitors were more likely to find Irwin working behind the counter. After the sale, Stalder and Towers seemed relieved to hand over the keys and retreat to their private studios in order to pour their full concentration into the development of their respective eponymous clothing lines, for all intents and purposes having washed their hands of the boutique business.
Luckily, Haunt is a much smaller, and simpler, operation than Seaplane, and limited to a small amount of Stalder and Irwin's own merchandise, with currently just one addition: Rachael Donaldson's Demimonde line of jewelry (although one might see the occasional contribution from Towers or Claire La Faye, another early Seaplane contributor). Now that she's back in the retail game, Stalder has stepped up her production of more casual clothing that can be easily bought off the rack, in addition to her steady output of custom and formal attire. Lightweight tanks with her signature embellishments sit alongside easy cotton summer dresses and ruffled shrugs. Meanwhile Irwin, a talented knitter/designer, goes far beyond the scarf, with buckled knit belts, dresses, bikinis, and even large handbags, while Donaldson's complementary pieces are most dramatic with the addition of fringe and stones, and a small taxidermy fox presides over it all. The shop has been open for several weeks now, but Stalder and Irwin are planning an official inauguration on August 6, and hope to hold small fashion shows in the courtyard at the front of the building.
Given Haunt's neighbors, including Sword + Fern, Nationale, Stand Up Comedy, and Bombshell Vintage, the small size of the shop isn't as problematic as it might be in a more isolated location. What's been called the "feminist mall" is conducive to this kind of micro-boutique, and Haunt is an ideal addition to the hive.