Portland has no sales tax, making it a popular shopping destination for Washingtonians, who cross the Columbia River to avoid paying their state’s substantial sales tax.
The Shopping Scene
The retail scene in Portland is changing as fast as it is in the rest of country. Department stores like Macy’s (formerly Meier & Frank) that were once downtown anchors, have disappeared or downsized and moved to mall locations. Thankfully, Portland still loves small specialty stores, vintage clothing shops (Portland loves anything vintage or retro), crafts stalls and food markets.
In the blocks around Pioneer Courthouse Square, once the heartland of all-purpose shopping in downtown Portland, you’ll still find a flagship Nordstrom (and a nearby Nordstrom Rack), Nike, Columbia Sportswear, Apple, Microsoft, Pioneer Place Mall, and numerous upscale boutiques.
The Pearl District and Nob Hill/Northwest, both in Northwest Portland, are other destination shopping areas. Most of the Pearl District’s best shopping is along NW 10th and 11th avenues going north from West Burnside Street. Here you’ll find all kinds of trendy boutiques, art galleries, and home-furnishing stores. The best Nob Hill shopping is along NW 23rd Avenue going north from West Burnside Street. Both neighborhoods have block after block of interesting, often one-of-a-kind boutiques. Along NW 23rd Avenue you’ll also find a few national chains like Urban Outfitters, Pottery Barn, and Restoration Hardware.
For shops with a more down-to-earth, funky flair, head southeast to the Hawthorne District. Though it’s not as antiques-centric as it was a few years ago, SE 13th Avenue in Sellwood is still a strollable place to hunt for antiques and collectibles.
Most small stores in Portland are open Monday through Saturday from 9 or 10am to 5 or 6pm. Shopping malls are usually open Monday through Friday from 9 or 10am to 9pm, Saturday from 9 or 10am to between 6 and 9pm, and Sunday from 11am until 6pm. Many downtown department stores stay open until 8 or 9pm. Most art galleries and antiques stores are closed on Monday.Antiques
Antiques stores are scattered throughout Portland, but the Sellwood neighborhood just east of the Sellwood Bridge is the best place for concentrated shopping. One of the first “streetcar suburbs,” it has a number of modest Victorian homes—trolley car drivers lived in many of them—and the quiet, unassuming ambience of a small town. Antique Row, on 13th Avenue between SE Malden and Clatsop streets, has the largest concentration of antiques and collectible stores in the state. Victorian, Mission, and Arts and Crafts wood and wicker furniture, linens, glassware, and paintings are among the items you'll find here. There are two large antiques malls (under the same ownership) on Milwaukie Avenue: Stars, 7030 SE Milwaukie Ave. (www.starsantique.com; tel. 503/239-0346); and Stars & Splendid, 7027 SE Milwaukie Ave. (tel. 503/235-5990).
On the first Thursday of the month, galleries in downtown Portland and the Pearl District schedule coordinated openings in the evening from about 6 to 9pm. In the past few years, this has become quite a scene, and streets are closed off so smaller vendors and craftspeople can also display and sell their wares. Stroll from one gallery to the next, meeting artists and perhaps buying an original work of art. On the last Thursday of the month, shops and galleries in the NE Alberta Street neighborhood stage a similar event that is just as crowded and maybe a little more fun.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.