THE GRADUAL evolution of the edge of Old Town that brims at the lip of West Burnside just scored itself another major point on the "higher end" side of the ledger. Adding to the area's newly revamped social services buildings, well-intended yet poorly conceived four-way stop sign intersections, and plans for hipster apartments and hotels, comes Table of Contents (33 NW 4th). Joining neighboring establishments that similarly bode the area's aspirations—Hand-Eye Supply, Ping—TOC is the first truly upscale clothing and housewares boutique to break the ice in an area that's typically ventured no further than the urban streetwear of Compound and Upper Playground.
In fact, the inner Northwest's other recent retail acquisition, Bulle Classic (937 NW Glisan), is very much in that streetwear vein, featuring local industry-inspired nautical and timber themes on sweatshirts, T-shirts, and hats designed by partners Nichalus Woolley and Aaron Moiel, as well as Woolley's jewelry designs and complementary sneaker pairings. If anything, its situation on NW 10th would feel more appropriate to an establishment like TOC, and vice versa. You still might feel a little self-conscious coming in and out of Bull while one block over stands Right 2 Dream Too, the most visible reminder of the city's housing problem, but TOC may as well be on another planet. With glossy white environs inspired by Joseph Magliaro and Shu Hung's affection for publications, and a roster of brands one might recognize (Comme des Garçons, Correll Correll, Henrik Vibskov, Opening Ceremony, Patrik Ervell, Slow and Steady Wins the Race), TOC's stock in trade isn't foreign to the city's boutique holdings overall, but it is certainly unique to the neighborhood.
Rather than limit itself to clothing, TOC also appeals to a modern eye for literature and houseware designs. At least in its infancy, TOC does not seem overly concerned with utilitarianism; there is little here you truly need for your apartment, thus making it somewhat more difficult to fall into self-justifications like buying an Italian cherry wood citrus juicer because, hey, you really do need a citrus juicer. Instead its products tend toward the whimsical: a towering carved-wood spiral is purely decorative. A magazine rack's accomodation of reading material is secondary to the uniqueness of its shape. The dishware doesn't need to be touched.
It's the type of place that can fire the imagination, leaving plenty of room to imprint yourself on the collection, separate each piece from its showroom and become something new in the context of an individual. It's just not clear yet when those individuals will actually start living in the neighborhood.