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Antiques >Old Portland Hardware
4035 Se Division St, Portland, OR | Directions 9720245.504790 -122.620852
Neighborhoods: Richmond, Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Program
More than an antique store, more than a hardware store, Old Portland offers homeowners the opportunity to install Portland history into their homes. Wall sconces, fireplaces, and door knobs--all recovered from turn of the century Portland buildings--are available for purchase. Also, don't touch the stuffed hyena.
Old Portland Hardware and Architectural is hands-down the most interesting store in the city if you happen to be (as I am) into architectural salvage, antique lighting, and vintage oddities. I've worked retail (including three different antique malls) and don't enjoy it, but I never leave this place without envying the owner his job, simply because he has constant contact with (and first pick from) truly fascinating objects.
You just never know what you might find here. In the years since they opened, in addition to great vintage lighting, hardware, and plumbing I have seen the stuffed hyena (Terrance), an authentic head hunter's axe (no-kidding), a tri-fold room screen artfully embellished with thousands of cigar bands (which I now own), one of those arcade-style stereo card flipping machines, neon signage, gorgeous vintage stoves, some of the best steampunky repurposed lighting creations I've seen anywhere, advertising signs and packaging, and many, many small objects that make we wish I was crafty.
I have always experienced friendly and knowledgeable customer service here and should add that as a long-time antique buyer and seller, that the prices are very fair.
Tips (based upon reading other reviews here and elsewhere):
Don't touch the hyena or anything else that regular handling would damage. (Duh.) That's kind of a personal request—I daydream about taking him home one day when my ship comes in and I'm hoping he'll still have some fur left.
Don't bring children unless they are the sort that know how to ask for permission before touching. Though there aren't many fragile items, there are plenty that could get a kid hurt, and some hardware items have not been cleaned up, so your child is likely to emerge with grubby hands. I've seen some very poorly behaved parents there at art events—this is not a good place to let your kids run wild.
Do ask questions, the owner is knowledgeable, but don't expect the staff to be your free personal consultants. It takes a lot of time to keep a place like that up. (I once watched a woman tie up the owner's time for close to an hour asking him for restoration guidance—she wasn't buying anything, just cleaning up her own home hardware. I'm sorry, but that's just rude and you can bet that if the owner hadn't tolerated her she would have been here or on yelp writing a bad review.)
Don't be offended if you offer a lower price and get a disappointing response (like one reviewer apparently did). If you know your pricing, you'll know that the pricing is already very reasonable.
Do check out the monthly art shows featuring local artists.
And do (though I'm reluctant to invite shopping competition) follow them on Facebook, because they tend to post photos of some of the coolest items. I once snagged a couple of great lamps for a decorating client because I reserved them moments after they were posted on Facebook. Sadly, I also lost a great table for him by hesitating before making it in.
Sad day - Bad Service – An amazing and beautiful store, but, I went in and found a beautiful item and the man told me $200 and a story of the beautiful piece. I pondered the thought of spending this amount, so gave it another night. I returned the next day to an older gentleman working, he asked if he could help me, I asked if he would take $150 for the item. He looked at me and laughed and said "Hell no! I'll take $300 for it!" I told him I was in the day before and spoke to a gentleman who said $200. He said "Good luck with that! Come back on Tuesday and see if you can get it for that, but between the time you leave and come back Tuesday I'll have that thing turned into a lamp and sold for $375!" I walked out telling him to have a nice weekend but still have a problem with the fact that he's going to destroy a beautiful piece of Victorian History. Not a good time to be greedy in today's economy. Sad day.
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