Take a moment to reflect on the East Burnside that was. It was just a few short years ago that the strip of main drag running from the intersection of Sandy to the river was a desolate, sketchy path, a way to get somewhere else, but rarely a destination. Aside from communing with the characters at the Plaid Pantry, there wasn't much to do or look at until you hit the views at Union Jacks or braved the karaoke stage at the Galaxy.
The turning point, of course, was the arrival of the so-called "Rock Block," when the Bossanova opened simultaneously with the Jupiter Hotel/Doug Fir complex, ousting a preexisting (though far less photogenic) motel and an ill-advised Chinese restaurant, kicking off a rejuvenation that continues to this day. The East Burnside we've grown accustomed to is a hip destination for fine dining, shopping, salon services, and a wide array of waterholes, with or without nightly entertainment.
Along with these developments came an unpopular nickname that tried to capture the newly emerging scene: "LoBu," short for "lower Burnside." The business owners who invested in the area have finally decided to nip the name in the bud, reclaiming it as the "Lower East End." As a branding tool, it echoes another red-hot area of new boutiques and critically acclaimed restaurants anchored by a hipster hotel—the West End—and this Black Friday marks its christening, with big sales and a collaborative fashion show and raffle meant to draw attention to, as Lille Boutique's Sarah Wizemann put it, "How much you can get accomplished on East Burnside."
If you venture out for the biggest shopping day of the year, you can avoid the obnoxiousness of the mall and enjoy a brisk walk in the Lower East End, where the Rock 'n' Rose vintage store (616 E Burnside), Frank James boutique for men and women (729 E Burnside), and Lille Boutique (1007 E Burnside) will extend their hours for a two-part sale: From 10 am to noon, get 30 percent off the stores' entire stock, then from noon to close it's buy one, get one half off (of an item of equal or lesser value). Plus, a purchase of $20 or more qualifies you for entrance in a raffle for gift certificates and services at LEE businesses like Le Pigeon (738 E Burnside), Wax On (734 E Burnside), Redux (811 E Burnside), Kir (22 NE 7th), Sword + Fern (811 E Burnside), and Grendel's Coffee House (729 E Burnside). Basically, almost anywhere you drop into will have some kind of deal, whether it's a dessert special at the Doug Fir or half off cuts and color at Burnside Proper, discounted Brazilians at Wax On, 20 percent off everything at Sword + Fern, and $5 glasses of wine at Kir.
The sale will continue through Saturday, culminating in a fashion show that mashes up vintage merch from Rock 'n' Rose with streetwear from Frank James and lingerie from Lille. Rev. Shines of the Fix and Lifesavas fame will DJ, and there'll be free PBR for those who qualify (21+). Keep an eye out in particular for men's jackets from La Merde, which are designed by two Portland boys, Erik Prowell and Josh Hindson. The styles range from meatier (and warmer) updates on Members Only jackets to classic tweeds with unexpected hoods, a combination that nonetheless makes perfect sense when you see it, with the function of a hoodie minus the schlub and the dignity of a sport coat minus the douchiness. For ladies, look for the newest pieces from VPL, a lingerie line that eschews lace and floral motifs in favor of structure and color blocking that moves beyond undies to include hosiery, swimwear, and belts. (Lower East End Fashion Show, Frank James, 729 E Burnside, Sat Nov 29, 7:30 pm, FREE)
If the craft scene is more your speed, don't miss the Secret Society Sale, a one-stop destination for all manner of locally made gift ideas. Since ethics play an important role in your purchasing behavior (right?), these events make things easy, rife as they are with inventive recycling techniques in which bike parts become clocks and skateboards become jewelry. Have a cruise through the merch and pat yourself on the back for having accomplished your shopping with one of the fancy drinks next door at the Secret Society Lounge. (Secret Society Ballroom, 116 NE Russell, Sun Nov 30, 10 am-6 pm, FREE)
A few other sales of note: Phlox (3962 N Mississippi) is taking 20 percent off storewide this weekend, Friday through Sunday. Catch the tail end of the fall offerings from in-house line Isaac Hers, plus the Portland-via-Santa Cruz looks from Filly, cozy pieces like hooded tunics in wear-every-day colors and shapes, plus items by Linda Loudermilk, among many others. Sameunderneath's (915 N Shaver and 806 NW 23rd) recent appearance at Portland Fashion Week displayed a satisfying new direction for the men's and women's line, and you can grab a piece of it at a discount this weekend, Friday through Sunday, with a hefty 40 percent off all merchandise. Shopping season is officially on with a vengeance, so keep checking in at mod.portlandmercury.com for ongoing notices of bargains and events in the coming pre-holiday weeks.