When artists take over an old Lents storefront, what do you expect? The building remains its old self for now, but here one can find interesting and unique items from some of Portland's creative thinkers.
The store operates as an artists show room. The budget is small, there is little advertising beyond their web site, and operation is very different than the high-end galleries in Portland. The goal is to work with low-income Portland artisans and help them grow their reputations and income, with the ultimate goal of building sustainable enterprises by increasing each artisans' income by 25% each year. To that end, this non-profit store is supported by grant money from a number of different groups, as well as supporting the artists from the sale of their works.
As of this writing regular store hours are are Tuesday - Friday, 10 am - 6 pm, with occasional exceptions (for example, pre-Christmas shopping hours were extended).
The store is located on busy Foster Road, only 2 blocks from Interstate 205 and soon the MAX green line, so if you are passing through Portland on I-205 and want to stop somewhere that has interesting unique items this might be a worthwhile place to consider.
You will definitely find more unique items here than at the Clackamas Town Center (two freeway exits to the south) or mall 205 (four freeway exits to the north)!
Here are a few examples of what you see in my photos:
Photo 3: Clocks made from repurposed and redecorated records. To the far right you will see a wooden bowl made by a local craftsman that works with wood.
Photo 4: On the foreground right you see a hat made by one of our local artisans. In the center you will find jewelry displayed, and at the center right and left are various other household items, including colorful feng shui mirrors (far left) and wallets made from recycled neck ties (far right).
Photo 5: Most of these items are garden decorations, but a few are not. In the upper left you will see garden reflector balls made out of old marbles. To the right of them you will see pillows, and next to those are garden decorations created with old plates, cups and other kitchen ceramics. On the right side of the photo you will see a bird house on the floor, and bee houses on the window ledge. Towards the center of the photo, behind the garden decorations, you will see boxes that were once used to hold dental instruments which have been redecorated by a local artists for storage of most any household item that will fit inside.
What to buy: All items made by the local artists must be made out of a minimum of 50% recycled material. This includes everything from artistic refrigerator magnets made from small metal bottle tops to some garden decorations that are quite a bit larger. Jewelry, clothing, various gift itmes, decorations, and many odds and ends are here. All of these are made by Portland area artists and therefore at the very least you will find a unique Oregon item to take home.
As some examples of what is here:
Christmas gifts that I purchased here in December 2007 included a scarf made from recycled materials, earrings made from paper, a small storage box originally made for keeping dental instruments but redecorated by a local artist, and several of the metal bottle top refrigerator magnets. I considered (but did not purchase) one of the wooden bird houses, and a pillow with an image of the St. John's Bridge.
What you won't find: No standard tourist items such as Oregon post cards or T-shirts. No watercolor or oil paintings of local scenes.
See their web site for some examples of items found here.
What to pay: As each item is a unique artistic creation, it is hard to say what is a fair price. How does one set a price on a unique artistic creation? Some might pay thousands for something that someone else doesn't want at all. However, everything has a marked price, and just as elsewhere in almost all stores in the USA there is no negotiation over a marked price. Items range from $3 to well over $100. These prices are based on Trillium's goal of creating sustainable living wage employment for local artists that are low income, and thus prices are in that sense already set to a fair price.
See the web site for some examples of what is available and the price.
The Leach Botanical Garden is described elsewhere. However, it should be noted that they have a gift shop inside the facility as well. This gift shop includes a number of items that would be interesting to travelers, as well as some items not likely to be of interest except to a very few local people.
Items are a wide variety, including seeds, snack food, bird feeders, and a few items specificially created by and for the Leach Garden.
Hours: closed Mondays and certain holidays. Closes at 4:00PM most days.
The photo shows the manor house for the Leach Garden. The gift shop is to the left, but you can not see the entrance to the gift shop from the entrance to the garden - many people seem to miss this little store that is part of the garden.
What to buy: These are the items that are most likely to appeal to travelers visiting the area:
* Beeswax Candles, hand made from the provisions of the Leach Garden's own bee hives
* Cook books featuring some of the recipies from the Leach Garden "English High Tea" meal
* A special soup mix specially made for the Leach garden group
* Post cards, greeting cards, and a few other items that are specifically made for the Leach Garden
* Seed packages, including some special plants from the Leach Garden
Some of the general ecological educational items and toys may be of interest, such as the coloring books and the stuffed toy birds that have actual bird calls recorded into them.
What to pay: It seems to me that everything here is reasonably priced, but the Chinese made garden decorations are items that can be purchased anywhere in any common store. If you are traveling, you want to purchase only those items you can't find elsewhere.
As the Lents area was discovered by various generations of immigrants to the USA as being an economical place to buy a house and settle down, it has taken on an international flavor. Russian churches (at one time two, but now only one), Asian grocery stores, a Russian grocery store, and Vietnamese restaurants are crammed between traditional blue collar Portland housing and Mexican restaurants and junk shops.
You will see adds for this outdoor market. However, most of what is for sale here is food - mostly fresh vegetables, but also some items from a local Russian bakery just down Foster road a few blocks. There is one small area for children's activities.
It is located on the northwest corner of SE 92nd Avenue and Foster Road, in the empty lot behind the big pot. Today this is known as Crossroads Plaza and features benches and a big open space.
The market is open on Sunday mornings from 9AM to (approximately) 2PM.
There is a world map showing where the various customers and vendors were born and where their parents were born and raised.
Parking for the Lents Farmers Market is located in the parking lot of the Lents Masonic Temple, which is located just north of the market at 5811 Southeast 92nd Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97266.
What to buy: Most of the time, there is little here for tourists and travelers, but if you happen to be going by on a Sunday morning and need to get some healthy snacks (such as carrots, etc.) it might be a good place to stop.
You can even get some unhealthy snacks, as some of the items sold by the Russian bakery booth are chocolate with fruit filling.