IT DIDN'T LAST long, at least. When Local35 shut its doors at the start of 2012, Mary Luczycki and her partner Marcy Landolfo wasted little time in snatching up the primo address in the thick of SE Hawthorne's busy retail and restaurant corridor, after what Luczycki says were "sleepless nights" during which she "decided there was an opportunity there I couldn't turn down." Together they're opening Communion (3556 SE Hawthorne) this week, a shop that aims to fill a perceived gap in the local boutique market for affordable streetwear for men and women, including lines like Swedish design favorites Cheap Monday and WeSC, and Southern California's Publish, RVCA, and Lifetime.
Coincidentally, Luczycki worked for years as store manager at the Local35 location (and, briefly, at its higher-end replacement, Machus). But the more things stay the same, the more they change. Other than having been where Luczycki earned much of her retail chops, Communion is a completely independent, brand-new venture, and a fresh start. To underscore that fact, she and Landolfo completely redid the space, knocking down walls and lacquering the floor in a rich, glossy black. A long table through the middle of the room is suggestive of the communal experience from which the store takes its name.
"After years of selling more exclusive lines, the one thing I heard on a daily basis was how difficult it was to find stylish clothing without the high cost and or the pretension," says Luczycki of Communion's raison d'être. "I know there are lines out there that have more of a union between economy and design and, surprisingly, in this town it's becoming harder to find. I guess it comes down to simply giving what people have been asking for.
"After all my years at Local, I've been lucky in meeting the best customers and friends. I know the customer base within the mid-price range is huge in Portland, and I know everyone wants and deserves to feel special spending $65 on jeans while getting treated like they've spent hundreds."
No doubt those words are a welcome salve to the ears of Portland's many, many underpaid trendsetters who can appreciate the up-tick in boutiques that focus on of-the-moment, fashion-forward brands—it's these shops, after all, that have worked Portland's once mostly vintage repertoire into a (tax-free!) shopping destination that draws visitors from up and down the West Coast and beyond. After all, it's one thing to appreciate, and quite another to be able to afford, the Rachel Comeys and A.P.C.s of the world when you're flirting with bohemia/the poverty line.
Communion opens its doors for the very first time on Friday, March 30, from 6-10 pm. They're starting things off right with an opening bash that features music from E*Rock and cocktails from House Spirits. Stop in to congratulate Luczycki and Landolfo on the fruits of their labors (and maybe pluck some for yourself while you're at it).