Growing up I wanted to be A cowboy. I played with six shooter cap guns, cowboy boots and dressed up in chaps. On the second floor of the Portland Outdoor Store, nestled in the back corner, I found this Pendleton rocking horse and immediately fell in love. The craftsmanship and detail is amazing. I couldn't think of a better gift for a young boy or girl.
The Portland Outdoor Store opened for business on the corner of 3rd and Oak in downtown Portland in 1919. Over the last seventy-nine years the store has changed hands once. It continues to carry the same traditional American western brands like Levi's, Stetson, Tony Lama, Georgia Boot, Woolrich, Pendleton, Filson and British brands like Barbour and Clarks.
In addition to these core brands, the Portland Outdoor Store offers a bunch of English and American horse tack and equipment and a full range of men's wool suits from companies like Pendleton. The Portland Outdoor Store staff knows the equipment inside and out and is very helpful in offering advice.
For added income, the store rents out expensive goods like saddles, jackets and bridles for 10% of an item's retail price for using in movies, plays and photo shoots.
I can't say enough about this store. It is an institution. Walking through its doors, one travels back in time. I can't think of a more authentic experience. The store resembles a real life Free & Easy magazine with a large collection of western memorabilia and merchandising. A number of stores, such as the RRL on Bleaker Street, have tried to recreate the same atmosphere, but they fall dramatically short. With their classic selection of American and English heritage brands, as well as their long standing tradition as a provider of outdoor equipment, the Portland Outdoor Store represents the best of the resurgence movement.
Come to Portland, stay in the nearby Ace Hotel, and shop at the Portland Outdoor Store.
Here is a typical Portland Outdoor Store shopper.
Filson Mackinaw Jackets and Filson Tin Cloth in the foreground.Filson Doulbe Mackinaw Hats and Pendleton Shirts
This is where I got my Filson Alaskan Guide Shirt.
Second Floor: Woman's Clothing and Equestrian equipment and me with my new canon 17-55mm f2.8 lens.
The Third Floor: Saddles, Stirrups, and a Gun Holster (pictured below).
The Portland Outdoor Store offers no-commission sales of used saddles(pictured below).
The In-house expert will find the right boot for you from their 3000 pair inventory.
The Popick family has run the store since 1929 when Brad's grandfather, Abe Popick, and his cousin, Nate Director, bought the store.
I have always resented Urban Outfitters.
In high school, I used to call out Van's slip-shod J.A.P.'s (Jewish American Princesses) for wearing their "Jesus is My Homeboy" shirt, affectionately purchased at "Urban," for weeks on end. This lack of creativity in their selection and blatant copying of trends bothered me. Or perhaps my time spent as a salesmen at a skateboarding/snowboarding boutique watching tweens cycle through the Urban Outfitters across the street like commuters at subway turnstile. Or maybe it's because every time I go into the men's section, I see clothes very similar to ones i own selling at a fraction of the price. I rationalize this phenomena by saying, "Ohh the quality of this shit is miserable, my Paul Smith shirt will last forever, plus organic cotton makes me feel good about myself."
Recently my view of Urban Outfitters has evolved from disgust to respect.
Urban Outfitters is well positioned to exit this recession as prime youth retailer for multiple reasons.
First, many competing boutiques will shut down leaving the hipster field open for Urban Outfitters to capitalize.
Secondly, Urban Outfitter's Men's buyer, Dan Leraris, is doing a great job of picking brands. A recent article in the LA Times, "American Heritage Brands Make A Come Back" discusses Urban Outfitters role at the forefront of the revival of the American Heritage brand/work wear movement. Their awesome selection of LL Bean, Filson, Pendleton, Sperry, and Red Wing resonates extremely well with the direction of men's wear. By carrying these brands, Urban Outfitters will win over the demographic of men shoppers, like myself, that have avoided their merchandise due to quality issues and thus transfer Urban's brand image of that of cheap t-shirts to quality men's clothing.
In addition to carrying these quality driven brands, Urban Outfitters is doing a great job of launching more economically priced sub-brands for premium brands like Rogues Gallery and Patagonia. For Spring/Summer 2009, Urban will carry a line designed by Alex Carelton (head designer and founder of Rogues Gallery) called Never Sleep.
This Fall Urban Outfitters and Patagonia teamed up to offer a retro line of fleeces. By branding themselves as a viable distribution stream, premium brands, like Rogues Gallery and Patagonia, will use Urban Outfitters as a vehicle by which to launch mass market sub brands. This relationship will prove lucrative for both designers like Alex Carelton and Urban Outfitters while not compromising the image of their premium brands.
Maybe the pricing of this new merchandise will be out of reach for many Americans struck by these hard economic times, but I doubt it. These brands' image of classic quality are the essence of what men want in clothes and will "last." This perception bodes well consumers in a time when they are tightening their belts and focusing on the essentials. Wouldn't you rather have a pair of quality, leather Red Wing boots than two pairs of neon Dunks?