THERE IS ONE downtown pop-up shop that is not like the others: The Portland Design Collective (902 SW Morrison) fully opened last Thursday, December 2, revealing the vastness of its space, and potential. The smaller, front portion of the store showcases covetable merchandise, almost all of which is produced by local designers (Frocky Jack Morgan, Dawn Sharp, Luxury Jones), and it's filled out with best-pick vintage pieces—like a mint-condition Inuit coat made with seal and wolf pelts, and branded by local treasure hunter Brooks. A live band had plenty of room to stretch out in the vast back room, and one could have done a long series of cartwheels to get from the thrifted records on one side of the store to the bar in the middle of the room where employees were frantically doling out cups of beer and champagne, and yet another over to a display of jewelry by Caitlin Troutman on the opposite wall.
While the other pop-ups (Crafty Wonderland, Flurry, cloth/gold FACTORY, and Downtown Artistry) are largely expected to close at the end of the holiday shopping season, the Collective is going to stick around—though, again, not forever. The building in which it sits—the SW 10th and Yamhill SmartPark garage—is set to be torn down and rebuilt, with construction beginning as soon as within the next two years. In the meantime, the city's downtown retail strategy has zeroed in on it as a crucial area of their focus.
"The gap for the shopper walking along Morrison from Broadway to 10th is significant," says Portland Development Commission's Katherine Krajnak, who has worked closely on the Collective's evolution. "We needed more activation across from Brooks Brothers to draw the shopper along, and to even be compelled to take a short walk down to visit all the great West End retail on 10th near the Ace [Hotel] (Radish Underground, Covet, Francis May, Tender Loving Empire, etc.)." So they struck a deal with Tacee Webb, who is herself a contractor and has extensive experience in retail build-out through her work with American Apparel, among many other ventures. For as long as they have the building and business goes well, expect monthly events (written into the lease to ensure the space remains active) and an ever-growing inventory. Webb, along with Managing Director Claire Anctil, is operating with a 70/30 percentage split of local with vintage or small lines outside the city, and they are considering cross-promotions with likeminded Eastside shop Rad Summer. Next up: A trunk show with Dawn Sharp and Luxury Jones is slated for the evening of Friday, December 17.