IN PORTLAND'S vintage-drenched retail scene, charm can go a long way. The latest arrival to catch a buzz is Reunion, a tiny shop with eclectic, well-selected vintage and then some. We got the scoop from co-owners Tara Swenson and Will Bennett on what makes Reunion so special.
MERCURY: What are your backgrounds?
REUNION: Tara has been designing clothes and jewelry since high school. Along with our friend Sarah Williams, she began Moonsssswoon. Will brings business cred, cosmic cred, and oddball fashion sense.
Why open a brick 'n' mortar shop? How does it feel to do so in this economic climate?
The initial plan was to rely on web sales and be cautiously optimistic about finding a good location. Enter Abe [King] from Discourage Records, who we met after answering an ad on Craigslist, which described a great location at a great price. It fell into our laps. It was the first place we had even looked at.
In general, the climate is rough. It's rough everywhere. Now that we've got our little hole in the wall, we're starting to ramp back up with Etsy. Portland itself is like an export these days, so it's really good for little shops like ours, and the many others around the city, to keep their online presence vivid and strong. It's totally possible to do strictly online sales and make a profit, but we knew we wanted to have something we could share with friends and the community. We love holding events, such as the free event night we hold every last Friday from 7-9 pm, during which we offer 10 percent off everything while our friends perform live music or DJ sets.
When you look for pieces for the shop, what qualities do you search for?
Our tastes are a reflection of what we see in our daily lives combined with inspiration from old films, 1970s photography, and modern kitsch. We have a lot of sequins, a lot of geometry, a lot of cosmic and psychedelic stuff—but we try to find pieces that display those qualities in the subtlety of their design.
Tell us about the non-vintage merchandise.
We carry Moonsssswoon—most of their pieces are handmade, unique items. Many are repurposed edits of other clothes. [Designers Sarah and Tara] demonstrate their love of a sort of negative space in terms of color and materials—sort of a weird balance of positive and negative vibes expressed in the clothes. We also have zines available, some consisting of comics, others containing interviews with bands and artists. One of our favorites, The Prince Zine, written by our friend Joshua James Amberson, is a humorously written biography on the artist currently known as Prince. Reunion, 1737B SE Morrison, reunionpdx.com