If you’re searching for the zeitgeist of Portland (beyond the satire provided on cable by Portlandia), you might want to drop by a nondescript warehouse huddled under the I-5 freeway spaghetti canopy looming over North Interstate Avenue. That’s where you’ll find the new, hospitable home of Beam & Anchor, a one-stop shopping destination for all things Portland now.
Granted, it doesn’t have all that Fred Meyer has (no fresh vegetables or tube socks – yet), but Beam & Anchor are a source for homegrown household goods of all sorts. And by homegrown, I mean made upstairs above the ground floor retail shop, in some cases.
The spot is a very new (they opened shop doors a few weeks ago) place for making and selling, community and commerce alike. I was browsing, noticing the up to the minute hipsterness of my youthful fellow shoppers (plaid shirts, skinny jeans, nouveau traditional leather boots, beards) and thinking how oh-so-Portland they were. But it turned out two of the browsers were from Germany, just passing through town on a busman’s holiday for their website, Today I Made. As part of their “Makertour” of the States, they’d started the day at a quilting workshop at Fabric Depot, where someone told them to swing by Beam & Anchor.
It was a great discovery for them (according to congenial co-founder Wolfgang Wopperer), and a revelation for any of us Portlanders pondering the nexus of globalization and regionalization, of cyberspace connections and word of mouth recommendations (that would be me). This previously forgotten, foreboding warehouse on North Interstate has turned into a (global) community meeting place and source for handmade, gorgeous durable goods for home life.
The place warrants a long browse-through, with a lot of picking up and touching of beautiful objects you’ll then not want to put down. That was a common characteristic of most of the items Beam & Anchor carries – not only are they high quality and durably, beautifully crafted, but they were lovely to the touch. Leather, canvas, wood, ceramic, wool, glass – the materials vary, but the look and feel are uniformly satisfying.
That said, Beam & Anchor covers all the requisite elements of Portland style now: letterpress cards, air plants and terrariums, live edged wood, Edison-style filament light bulbs, Pendleton wool and mid-century modern (both restored vintage finds and inspired new pieces).
It’s a cliché that everything old is new again, but here, it’s old yet newly different: new and built to last, and made with more than just a savvy marketer’s calculation of what will sell, but with real thought to the where and when and why and by whom.
Jocelyn Rahm (co-owner with her husband Robert) explains their hope for the warehouse to be a hub for a community of makers; already it is that, with several studio spaces upstairs where her colleagues are creating everything from furniture to tote bags (including her brother Bren Reis with his cabinetmaking biz). She and Robert have education and counseling backgrounds (respectively), and "the community piece is really important," as Jocelyn says.
They are leasing-to-own the building and the otherwise empty block it sits on, and already in talks with various developers and investors to build anew around the restored warehouse. The time does seem to be right for development of this parcel. The site is a just north of the Widmer Brothers brewpub, Russell Street historic district and Albina MAX station (which itself is close to the Rose Quarter, a “place,” if I can call it that, where authenticity and community mix in a rather different way). The spot is also a short trip up the hill to the vibrant Mississippi neighborhood.
Beam & Anchor is a charming, welcome and useful new neighbor in this industrial edge, ever evolving mix of old and new.
Beam & Anchor
2710 N Interstate Ave.
Portland, OR 97227
503 367 3230