A Day In Downtown Portland (Mostly Powell’s)

Technically it was just about 3 and a half hours, and I spent 80% of the time in one place. But “A Day In Downtown Portland” sounded better than “Three and a half hours in mostly Powell’s and a few other places in Downtown Portland.”

Yesterday, Josh had a meeting and we decided that he should drop me off downtown and I would just hang out while he did his thing. 

downtown portland

It was a sunny but very chilly day, quite frosty, so I started off by buying myself a coffee (even though I am tea drinker), and then I decided to go hang out at a park for a bit, but instead I ran into Powell’s City of Books. I would say this is one of Portland’s landmarks. Powell’s is an independent new and used bookstore that occupies a whole city block right in Downtown Portland and has 4 floors.

powells city of books
Powell’s City of Books, Portland source

I have always really enjoyed going to Barnes & Noble and spending a fair amount of time in there. I ended up spending about 2 and a half hours in Powell’s. They offer a bag check service, which I definitely took advantage of because my bag was a bit heavier than usual but I kept my crappy yet handy camera in my coat pocket. 

powells portland

As expected, there were rows and rows of books.

powells portland
Penguin Drop Cap Collection

But the first thing that really caught my attention were these Penguin Drop Cap series of collectible hardcover classic books. I love Penguin Collections, I wanted to buy one of each of these books and create a library in my imaginary home. I say imaginary, because the only home we have right now is a very small one in India, in fact I wouldn’t even call it home, I would call it a house because I don’t feel at home there, yet.

Also, even if we did have a home and I could afford to buy one of each for home decor purposes, I wouldn’t even do it in real life. I always have ideas of how I would love to decorate our home (whether we have one or not) but I can never bring myself to justify buying things we don’t need, specifically things that don’t have a purpose and serve as decoration only (unless they are like $5 or less). I know, books have a purpose, but let’s be honest, I wouldn’t read these ones if I had them. So, I will continue decorating my imaginary home, where I will have a Penguin Drop Cap collection and tons of decorative pillows.

powells portland calvin hobbes

I also wanted to buy this book (above), because I am a Calvin and Hobbes fan.

powells portland

Next, I went through the many Greeting Card turning poles to find a card for Josh for our upcoming anniversary. I didn’t like any from the Anniversary/Wedding section because they were too corny, so I bought him a silly birthday card.

powells portland
Journals and Notebooks

One of my favorite sections in any bookstore is the journal/notebook section. Even in a big technology era, I still often use notebooks. I use them to write directions, shopping lists, doodling, packing lists, other lists…

powells portland
Art section

The one before and this one are usually together, but if not, another of my favorite sections is the art section: sketchbooks, coloring books, art supplies… Bonanza of artistic happiness.

powells portland

powells portland

powells portland

I continued roaming around, and eventually reached the Pearl Room (4th floor), my favorite floor. I spent some time there where I found some cool vintage and original maps and postcards like this one:

powells portland postcard
Original postcard circa 1960.

I apologize on behalf of my camera, he has a terrible angle distortion syndrome. Can’t keep anything straight.

powells portland zentangle
Zentangle section

I even was surprised to find a small section dedicated to Zentangle, I think I made it famous.

I kept finding little treasures. Two of them brought me straight to my childhood, my Mexican childhood:

powells portland loteria
Lotería Mexicana

…Like this juego de lotería! ¡Orale! I couldn’t believe I found this. Lotería is a game of chance similar to bingo, but instead of numbers, there are images, and instead of balls there are cards, each accompanied with a riddle. A few of the quirky images include: El Diablito (The little Devil), La Sandía (The Watermelon), El Valiente (The Brave One), El Mundo (The World), El Nopal (The Cactus), and La Sirena (The Mermaid).

A few examples of the riddles include:

El corazón (The Heart): No me extrañes corazón, que regreso en el camión. “Do not miss me, sweetheart, I’ll be back by bus.”

El pescado (The Fish): El que por la boca muere, aunque mudo fuere. “This one dies by its mouth, even if it was mute in life”

Now that I think about it more, I need to go back and buy the game.

powells portland worry dolls
Guatemalan Worry Dolls

And these Guatemalan dolls also reminded me of my childhood. I remember these because my aunt gave me a little bag of these when I was little, and the memory really stuck to me. What the description in the packaging doesn’t say, is that once you tell your worry to a doll, you put it under your pillow overnight. Or at least that’s what I was told. I think these would make a great gift.

powells portland coffeeshop

As it should be, there is a coffee shop inside Powell’s and it’s not a Starbucks. (I don’t have anything against Starbucks, in fact I love Starbucks, but it was something to point out.)

After about 2 and a half hours, maybe more, I couldn’t leave without buying something. So I spent less than $5 on an anniversary (birthday) card, and a small plain notebook with a Day of The Dead illustration on the cover.

I actually got pretty warm in there with all the walking and I was wearing a sweater and a coat, so when I finally left the store, the crisp and frosty wind hit me, very pleasantly.

downtown portland boys fort portland

My next plan was to actually take me up on my plan of hanging out at a park and maybe buy another beverage. But on the way there I ran into a store where the displays caught my attention. It was called Boys Fort: A Manthropology.

One of my favorite stores is Anthropologie, so I was very intrigued even though it was supposed to be a store for men and boys. I went inside and instantly enjoyed my surroundings; there were lots of wood, metal, leather, vintage, and quirkyness.

boys fort portland

Again, even though “Boys Fort is a carefully curated collection for boys of all ages and those who love them”, I saw several things I would buy for myself.

boys fort portland

I’m a sucker for stuffed animals/creatures. How cool are these?

boys fort portland

I loooved these wooden coasters.

boys fort portland

And that neon pink dresser. Seriously.

As I was listening to “Crimson and Clover” playing through the speakers (love classic rock), I kept exploring the store and some very pleasant smells started emerging. Apparently the owners of Boys Fort collaborated with Solabee Flowers and Botanicals and opened this brick and mortar together, so inside the shop there is a Botanical section, all planty, and flowery, and pleasant and yummy-smelling.

(I think that adds up to three words I made up in this post so far.) They recently opened, just this last May 2013, so if you are in the Portland area, I recommend you stop by; everything they sell comes from a collaboration with 75 local artists and craftspeople.

boys fort portland

And if you have a doggy, they even have a Canine Honor Bar (with only one treat left). So Portland.

brooks brothers portland

Then, I received a call from Josh that he was on his way, so I went inside Brooks Brothers while I waited for him, and looked and caressed the very expensive but amazing wool and cashmere scarfs and sweaters. I liked this picture (above) because it felt very Christmasy with all the lights surrounding the sign and on the naked trees; even the “Brook Brothers” typeface looks Christmasy to me, and I do love winter and Christmas. All the picture needed was a little snow.

And that about sums up my few hours in Downtown Portland.


1 thought on “A Day In Downtown Portland (Mostly Powell’s)

  1. Looks like fun! I used to work at an independent bookstore, so Powell’s (even though I’ve never been there) holds a special place in my heart.


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