Handmade in Portland Means Local Love for Small Businesses

September 1, 2016 • 5 min read
Byron Beck

Byron Beck

PDX Correspondent

Portland likes to keep it local. And handmade.

The local-centric, handcrafted movement is everywhere you look. From the food we eat, to the drinks we sip to the clothes we wear —or don’t wear—during the annual Naked Bike Ride, it seems as if if everything we touch, taste, see, or smell is created, concocted, and crafted right here in River City.

Portland is a makers’ paradise with micro-businesses, boutiques, and markets featuring exclusive items that have a decidedly “that’s so Portland” spin. It’s as if each item has an amazing story to tell of how it was handmade and can’t wait to share why you couldn’t have found it anywhere but here.

The city has such a love affair with all things handmade that small business in Portland, Oregon, can be summed up by the hashtag mantra: #livelocal. #shoplocal. #lovelocal.

One of the longest running and most revered crafts-people outlets is Portland Saturday Market. Located in Old Town/Chinatown, under the Burnside Bridge and along the northwest waterfront, the bustling market is as Portland as it gets.

“Portland Saturday Market has been at the forefront of the handcrafted movement in Oregon since 1974. By leading the way in those early years, the market has become a key incubator of micro-businesses, providing the opportunity for its 350-plus collective members to showcase their talents, test market their ideas, and hone their entrepreneurial skills,” said Reid Decker, the marketing manager for Portland Saturday Market. “This commitment to craftsmanship, design innovation, marketing ethics and awesome locally produced products, helped establish Portland as an international hub for the handcrafted movement.”

Handmade in PDX

Along with Saturday Market, Townsquared discovered the top five unique shopping meccas featuring handmade products from Portland and the great state of Oregon:

Made Here PDX

40 N.W. 10th Ave.

Founded by a team of proud Portlanders, MadeHere PDX is a shop dedicated to showcasing the talents of Portland-based designers, artists, and makers. From tools to outdoor gear to cutlery, this well-curated shop has an unique assortment that displays the various tastes and interests of this inland Pacific Northwest city. As MHPDX put it, “It’s no secret that Portland is a hotbed of creative culture, and is home to hundreds of industrious folks who design, roast, stitch, bake, weld, brew and build some of the coolest stuff in the world.” And MHPDX is a great place to find the coolest of Portland’s cool.

courtesy of madeinpdx.com

Crafty Wonderland

808 SW 10th Ave.

With a rotating lineup of talented vendors, Crafty Wonderland is the place to go to find some of the best handmade goods in the Northwest, as well as affordable work from talented visual artists. Crafty Wonderland started as an annual event meant to bring together crafty people with those who appreciate cool handmade items. But Portland and its guests couldn’t get enough of this stuff. The Crafty Wonderland shop, located near the MAX line and the center of the city, carries amazing handmade goods from over 180 Portland-area artists.

Portland Saturday Market

Portland’s North Waterfront Park and Ankeny Plaza

Every Saturday and Sunday from March through Christmas Eve, the Old Town/Chinatown neighborhood transforms into a thriving arts and crafts open-air marketplace. Celebrating its 43nd season in 2016, PSM is the Rose City’s largest outdoor arts and craft market. Items are sold by the people who make them, giving the customers the chance to talk directly with the artisans about their craft and why artists choose to make their living at the Market.

portland saturday market
courtesy of portlandsaturdaymarket.com

Made In Oregon

Various locations

One of the original providers of all things local, Made in Oregon has been offering locally made goods since the mid-1970’s. With a focus on gift baskets full of Oregon favorites like salmon, wine, cheese, hazelnuts, and marionberry jam, MIO also offers incredibly gorgeous Pendleton Woolen Mill blankets, the latest Portland Timbers merchandise (Go, Timbers!), Portlandia products, and “PDX carpet” items featuring the iconic and beloved Portland International Airport floor covering.

Union Way

1022 SW 10th Ave Portland, OR 97205

Located in the West End, Portland’s latest, and for some, its coolest, neighborhood, Union Way is unlike any other shopping thoroughfare in the city. From clothing boutiques to tasty pastry offerings, two of Union Way’s most heralded shops include the Oregon-made Danner boot shop and Will Leather Goods, based out of Eugene, Oregon.

Regarding small businesses and locally-made products, Portland Saturday Market’s Reid Decker may sum it up best, saying, “The Handcrafted Movement is all about small business and developing products that enrich our lives by adding soul to the things we do and the products we use. How we spend our money today will decide the quality of our community and ultimately define the character of our city.”


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