Where to head now that the rain has let up and the sun is tempting you to indulge in an afternoon of “me, me, me!” time?
Tell the office you’re taking care of some long-put-off dental work, then drive the “This is What Norway Must Look Like!” expressway (a.k.a. I-84) and spend three or four hours shopping in Hood River, Ore.
You’ll have an all-day smile when you return to your desk—promise!
CHIC SHEATHS AND SOLES FROM NEAR AND FAR
It feels big-city inside the small but well-edited PARTS + LABOUR (112 Third St., 541-387-2787
or parts-labour.com), the “modern lifestyle boutique” that Casey Cunningham (above and right, with designer Jennifer Thomas) dreamed up after spending years as an orthodontal assistant.
“I wanted to have my own business, so I considered going to dental school, but I have a 9-year-old son and I didn’t want to spend eight years in dental school,” says the Sandy, Ore., native, who also designed the shop’s copper display racks and metal-legged tables, which are topped with reclaimed wood from a 1920s building. “I’ve always been into fashion., so I worked up a business plan for a clothing boutique that would be inspired by nature—I like to sell the work of fashion designers who work with organic fabrics—and modern design, and, three years later, here I am. I like to wear clothes that are funky but not over-the-top.”
Her sustainable style mix of progressive urban clothing and accessories for women includes dresses from JT Designs ($224 for the gray wool Empire Dress, above; $128 for The Mod Mini in white bamboo, right)—the creations of Thomas, a Hood River, Ore., designer—Free People ($129 for a sundress), the Swedish brand Odd Molly, Brave Belts, Tano handbags and 100 percent rubber Melissa Shoes ($43 for a peek-a-boo toe pump with a wedge heel), which are made in Brazil. “Casey has such a great sense of style,” says Thomas.
“And Hood River is an amazing nest to grow in. So many stylish people live here.”
SERIOUS TOOLS FOR GARDENERS
Vintage Granny Chic is how shop co-owner Dani Correa,
Serious rose growers and landscape professionals will make a beeline for the high-quality garden tools in the back of the shop such as the Sheffield, England-made Burgon & Ball line ($24 for a stainless steel Shrub Rake; $40 for a Bonzai Trimmer) that’s been around for the last 275 years. Spear & Jackson is another old English line that’s available here ($75 for a pitchfork). You’ll also find stylish Womanswork gloves ($24), which are made to fit a woman’s hands.
Not that you need a plot of land to buy something in this artfully arranged, Granny Smith-hued shop. Trapp Private
Gardens perfumed candles, fruit-imprinted tablecloths and Veggie Heads reproduction flour-sack-cotton dishtowels ($11.50) will transport the garden into any space.
WHERE RUSTIC MEETS MODERN
If you’re among the anti-antler chandelier crowd who likes your interiors to say rustic and modern, be sure to stop in RED FEATHER MERCANTILE (311 Oak St., 541-386-7341), a furniture and home accessories store that also has a design center upstairs.
“We work with local designers, contractors and homeowners,” says manager Rheva Wren, standing amid swatches of finishes near a display of Stone County Ironworks hardware and hooks ($53 for a double-twist hook). “We can project-manage a custom home from start to finish, from floor to ceiling—and everything in between.”
Downstairs, a highly stylized Canadian-made Bison Head ($98) in rusted steel looked “Brokeback Mountain” modern. But it didn’t stop us in our tracks the way these brown-glazed plates (left) did. Mississippi-based ceramic artist Richie Del Watts creates the line of eye candy as The Good Earth Pottery ($30 for a Little Pagoda Plate in Ostrich, Caramel or Cappuccino; $235 for a large Couped Charder).
“Aren’t they exquisite?” asks sales associate Lee Taccogna, who’d unpacked the dishes recently. “I just want to have a hot fudge sundae on them!”
COOKING ACCOUTREMENTS–AND A DARN GOOD CAFE
The left half of the store is a popular cáfe that serves up the fixings of Jim Jordan (right), a former chef at Skamania Lodge. Watch out for the display case when you pay up: It’s filled with goodies and topped with baskets of blood-sugar boosters such as Hood River-made Blissful Brownies ($3 for a German Chocolate square). The right side of the shop shelves quality cookware and culinary accesories such as an All-Clad Roti Pan (on sale for $199), an L-Press Citrus Juicer ($149) and the Canadian line of Cucina products.
ECLECTIC FINDS FOR YOUR HOME AND YOU
SIT. STA-A-AY. BUY
Whether you share a bed with a pug or a standard poodle (“Hey, Zoey, scootch over! Mommy needs more blankie!”), you’ll find something for your well-loved pooch at GORGE DOG (412 Oak St., 541-387-3996 or go to gorgedog.com).
“Eight years ago, after being in retail for 16 years, my husband and I wanted to open our own business,” says Lisa Wiltsie, with shop dog Endo at her feet. “One day we sat in the park across the street and started counting the number of dogs walking by. That’s how we decided to open an accessories shop for man’s best friend. Now I think of Gorge Dog as my happy place!”
The shop owners cater mainly to dogowners, but a Kitty Corner is stocked with cat leashes and collars, and catnip-filled toys ($9).
Still, dogs rule here. From Ruff Wear life jackets ($40 to $45) to a colorful dog bowl adorned with a pug ($20), this specialty shop has something for your favorite bitch.
If you find your dog’s paw-print flannel bed totally unfetching next to your toile bedding, you’ll love the store’s two-piece Donut Bed. Its polyester filler is encased in an unzippable cover that comes in red black, blue or green toile ($60 to $100), among other fabrics. Pretty dog-gone sweet!
THE POTTERY LOVER'S LAIR
If pottery is your souvenir of choice, buy a Trudi Klinger piece by which to remember the Hood River Valley. The artist, who lives in Hood River, opened this spot three years ago to sell ceramics she crafts as MYSTIC MUD STUDIO (104 Oak St., 541-386-6463). The showroom is filled with her flower- or fruit-adorned pitchers (7-inch creamers sell for $39; large flower pitchers cost $200), casserole dishes, bowls and platters.
“The Valley really influences Trudi’s work,” says Nina Schwabenton, who assists Klinger in the shop and studio. “I adore the cherries she paints on bowls in spring, but when the harvest comes, I love her dishes with painted apples on their rims.”
STEM-OLOGY WITH A FRESH TWIST!
Don’t pass LUCY’S INFORMAL FLOWERS (311 Oak St., 541-386-3666
or informalflowers.com) just because you’ve already been a bride. The floral shop does do bridal flowers and custom arrangements for other special occasions, but it also displays some floral follies such as this dressform wearing a corsetlike “dress” embellished with white and chartreuse mums, sweet paintings by Hood River artist Mark Nilsson (coincidentally, we hired him to illustrate this month’s “Trade Secrets”) and one-of-a-kind aprons ($45) from Port Townsend, Wash.-based Retro Electro.
GROUND ESPRESSO BAR & CAFE (12 Oak St., 541-386-4442 or go to groundespressobarandcafe.com) sports cool veneer-twist pendants (left), a reading area with a sofa and chairs (head for the oversize framed panel of tufted flannel featuring a kitschy print of scantly-clad pin-up girls on skates and skis) and lots of two-tops for using the café’s free Wi-Fi.
The coffee house also has a wide selection of espresso and coffee drinks, tea drinks and paninis ($5.95 to $6.75). After you shop both sides of Oak St., order a strawberry-banana smoothie before you hit the road. The drink ($3.25) will put you in a delicious mood, the better with which to enjoy the drive home through the Gorge’s world-class scenery.
LUX LINENS AND ECO-FRIENDLY FARE
If you’re a thread-counter when it comes to your bedding, leave time to caress the Home Source bamboo sheets ($98 for a queen-size sheet; $66 for a set of two pillowcases) in the front of AT HOME ON OAK STREET (105 Oak St., 541-386-6687).
Shop owner Meg Dueber also stocks the Provencal-inspired Couleur Nature table linens ($8.50 for placemats). Paris-based designer Bruny Lamy designs the cheery line, which is block-printed in India. Pinecone Hill 100 percent cotton bed clothes are here, too. “I’ve got everything for the bedroom from bed ruffles to duvets,” she says.
The eco-friendly hostess will be drawn to a glimmery display of hand-poured and hand-pressed colored-glass tableware made of crushed, post-consumer recycled glass. Fire & Light, a California company, fabricates the products ($25.50 for an On the Rocks 8-ounce glass with chiseled bottom, $31 for a goblet and $33 for an 11-inch dinner plate) in colors such as copper, citrus, celery, aqua and cobalt. “Don’t you love how the colors just pop?” asks Dueber.
Stylish sandals, shoes and boots are the main loot at ZELLA SHOES & TREASURES (304 Oak St., 541-386-0700). Look left after you enter this antique chandeliered former bank and you’ll see its 1910 safe!
The pickings are pricey, but you’re paying for fashion, fit and eco-friendly manufacturing. We
liked the CYDWOQ Slide ($249), which is handmade of vegetable-dyed Italian leather and water-based glues in California. La Canadienne shoes from Montreal are here, as are Irish designer Orla Kiely’s handbags ($152 for a Classic Shoulder Bag), which are made in London.
Considering the beyond-poor exchange rate across the Big Pond, lovers of international style could save money shopping here!
TOYS R THEM!
Little ones of all ages will simply love G. WILLIKER’S TOY SHOPPE (202 Oak St., 541-387-2229), where toddler-size versions of the cartoonlike Gee Bee Sport Racer Plane ($439) hang upside-down from the ceiling as if invisible pilots are engaged in a dogfight with the Red Baron. (Tell the budding historians in your family that pioneer aviatrix Maude Tait won the 1931 Cleveland National Air Race in a full-size Gee Bee flying some 187 miles per hour! The daredevil won a whopping $3,750!)
“I sell a lot of classic toys, dolls, trucks, trains and crafts—but not so much plastic,” says shop owner Jennifer Wood, who was a manager at Eddie Bauer before opening her own store some 5 1/2 years ago.
Crack up over your crazy reflection in the funhouse mirror, then pick out some alphabet-shaped gummies ($1 for a dozen) and hit the basement for a race with a couple of wooden Duck Runners ($19) that are handmade in Washington state. May the best webfoot win!
A PATTERNED LANGUAGE SPOKEN HERE
“This is what I get to do all day: play with yarn!” says Nichole Reese, who helps avid knitters make their yarn and pattern selections at KNOT ANOTHER HAT (16 Oak St, Suite 202, 541-308-0002 or knotanotherhat.com), a three-year-old boutique for “everything hip and knitworthy.” Think specialty yarns, designer patterns, knitting needles, books, project totes and pretty baskets in which to keep your yarn twists and needles.
Nonknitters will want to touch the not-for-sale pint-size sweaters and baby caps shaped like strawberry tops ($4 for the Ann Norling Design pattern), cutie-patootie wool “stems” included! You’ll find tens of pattern brands and ropes of yarns from 40 companies such as Imperial Stock Ranch Wool ($10 for a 50-yard skein of Lopi Osprey), made from sheep raised in Maupin, Ore.
“How would I describe our yarns,” asks Reese? “Yummy!”
FROM LUXE RUGS TO A WHALE OF A PLUG
Whether you need a set of Tempur-Pedic Swedish mattresses, a short stack of super-pile Abyss bath towels ($55) or a fun Blue Whale tub plug for the kids ($7.25), you’ll probably find it at PLUSH BED AND BATH (210 State Ave., 541-386-3036 or go to plushbedand-bath.com). This one-stop store sells Company C rugs (from 3 by 5s to a 10 by 14!) sheets, shams and quilts. Upstairs you’ll find a great chrome hamper ($58), bathroom hardware, Aroma European specialty soaps and rub-a-dub-dub ready loofas.