There are many different ways to experience a city--via its main attractions, its restaurants, its dive bars, strip clubs and drunk tanks (most likely, but not necessarily, in that order), or for the retail-minded, through its shops. For a Tour de Commerce that will take you to all four corners of PDX while touching on a few of the city's recurring themes (coffee, beer, gently-used clothing, obscure literature, hand-crafted anything, waterproof shoes, etc), patronize these shining examples of local trade, where unique is a given and suspicious sticky smears are nonexistent (crossing fingers).
Simply the best spot in PDX to find something you've never read/seen/imagined before, this downtown "small press emporium" is like the rabbit hole of literature, you're never quite the same once you've ventured inside.
This delightful Hawthorne bookshop's focus pretty much sums up Portland--food and greenery. Plus, it adjoins Pastaworks specialty market, which adjoins Evoe wine bar, making it perfectly plausible to spend an entire afternoon between the three without getting so much as a drop of rain on your new cookbook acquisitions.
Regardless of your level of infatuation with beer, it's impossible to enter this unassuming Stark Street beer shop (with adjoining café/bar) and not be impressed by the sheer volume of wares and friendly, knowledgeable staff.
There are two reasons to visit this marvelous little Southeast vintage shop--one, shopping here is akin to wandering around Marilyn Monroe's walk-in closet, and two, you'll be right in the middle of the Clinton Street commercial district, one of the city's cutest and most unique off-the-beaten-track neighborhoods. Follow your hat and handbag shopping with brunch at Broder across the street.
This Belmont boutique boasts one of the most exquisite collections of hand-picked gifts, jewelry and upscale vintage furniture and glassware in town...or anywhere, for that matter.
If you don't have enough quirk in your life, that's because it's all in this fantastic little downtown retail consignment shop-slash-record label. I never worry about shopping for my picky bf anymore, because I can pretty much close my eyes and grab something, and it'll be a hit.
Below their Pearl District headquarters (newly relocated a few blocks up the street from the old building, at NW 13th & Glisan), this Stumptown shoemaker has a gorgeous retail shop selling all their sturdy, playful footwear.
If one too many suspicious sticky smears on the merchandise has turned you off to run-of-the-mill sex toy shops, try this lovely lady-owned boutique just off N. Mississippi, where you can browse the carefully-curated selection of books, beads & buzzy things in an upscale atmosphere that feels more Nordstrom than nudie revue.
This fun, funky, one-of-a-kind Mississippi Ave. treasure trove is a mecca of hand-crafted gifts, books, paper goods, and crafts from over 100 artists, plus they curate an art gallery upstairs. It is so very Portland, in the best of ways.
After the zombie apocalypse obliterates life as we know it, and we all have to rough it for a century or two while civilization is rebuilt, it's going to be a huge asset to know how to make your own beer, wine, soda, mead, kombucha and cheese. This awesome North Portland shop (now at 6550 N. Interstate Ave.) can help with that.
If you're always moaning about spending 10-15 percent of your monthly income in coffeehouses, stop into this temple of DIY bean brewing. Get beans, the best possible equipment, technique tips, and a whole new perspective on home brewing, & while you're there, sign up for a class and learn just how valuable that old popcorn popper stuffed somewhere up in your attic can be.