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Sole proprietorship

September 9, 2009
Optical shop

This little optical shop takes on EVERYBODY. (Orin O'Neill photos)

The light on Vaughn was red. There was a perfect space between the black BMW and the TriMet bus. I slipped the GTS in, then looked at the bus driver to acknowledge her courtesy.

She was flossing her teeth.

When she realized I was looking at her, she started laughing. Portland still has a sense of humor.

Portland also still has a lot of mom & pop businesses.

R&R Market

Of course, grocery stores and auto repair shops are the most numerous small businesses, since they’re easy to start and provide products and services most people need. And in NE Portland, they tend to be in cool old buildings.

Gordon's floors and furniture

Like Gordon’s. I see this one every time I ride on Broadway. It doesn’t appear to be excruciatingly upscale, the way businesses like this are in Seattle. The building itself shows its age, but has aged gracefully. There are lots of interesting details, but they have not been over-restored. You are left with the impression of a multi-generational local family business, one you could feel good about patronizing.

PCparamedix on Glisan is a 21st-century business, specializing in fixing everything that goes wrong with Windows PCs. Yes, they have plenty of work, and you see their light bar-equipped Scion xBs everywhere. BTW, that’s why I have Macs.

You’ll notice the old Champion Spark Plug logo on the sign for Swede’s Auto Parts, the building’s previous occupant. An employee of PCparamedix told me a grocery store occupied the building before Swede’s. He went on to say most of the buildings on Glisan between 60th and 82nd have long, colorful histories. So far, none seem to be in danger of being knocked down and replaced with 4-story condo buildings with ground-level retail.


Of course, some businesses are colorful by definition.

Helen's Pacific Costumers, on NE Glisan

Halloween is coming up, after all. And if you’re not interested in a costume, there’s a used camera store next door.

Jim & Patty's Coffee, 4951 NE Fremont, Portland

One of Portland’s more famous mom & pop stores was Coffee People, which hit its peak under owners Jim and Patty Roberts when I last lived in Portland. Coffee People and Motor Moka drive-ups were almost as numerous as Starbucks at that time, though Coffee People supplemented java with ice cream and milkshakes instead of board games and CDs. After subsequent entrepreneurial adventures, Jim & Patty now have one coffee shop at NE 49th and Fremont.

O'Neill's Tools

This last place caught my eye for obvious reasons. I wonder if I could get some kind of a deal by pointing out membership in the same clan in Ireland? Favicon

  1. September 9, 2009 2:36 pm

    Do what my friend with that last name Strauss does, ask for the Family Discount.

  2. September 9, 2009 5:19 pm

    This is a good reminder to patronize the Mom and Pops whenever possible. Maybe with $5 and your fine name, you can purchase a $5 hammer!

  3. September 10, 2009 6:32 am

    Portland is just an awesome town. Can’t wait to live there!

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