MEN’S AND WOMEN’S CLOTHING
With a swarm of good-looking men and women mingling about Lizard Lounge’s swank living room furniture, logging onto iMac stations, playing ping-pong, and pondering the portraits on the walls shot by local photographers, it’s easy to confuse this hybrid lounge-boutique with a permanent First Thursday bash. But if you’re on the prowl for cool duds, join the party. Inside you’ll find racks lined with urban streetwear that manages to bridge the tricky gap between apparel that’s appropriate for 9-to-5ers as well as Friday-night revelers. With more than 40 sportswear and accessory brands on-site for both sexes—including the shop’s own Horny Toad Activewear, which recently acquired the struggling Portland-based outerwear company Nau—there’s plenty to choose from. And the knowledgeable (and just-helpful-enough) staff is ready and willing to wax poetic about nearly anything, including the durability of that messenger bag made from recycled truck tarps or whether that polka-dot shift is a little too short for the office.
Many music shops are full of pushy staff salivating over commission checks. And even if you’ve explained to them that your guitar-picking prowess goes only as far as a poorly executed version of “Night Moves,” they’ll still strong-arm you into plugging in a $1,499 goldtop Les Paul guitar and an $800 Marshall amp. (“This setup rules. Just ask Jimmy Page!”) The vibe at Trade Up Music is different. Friendly (and intelligent) employees still want to sell you something, of course, but not anything you don’t need. And while used equipment here is typically refurbished with up-to-date components, it still comes with secondhand-size price tags, so you won’t need to take out a bank loan to land a banjo that twangs just right. But if you’ve got to have the most primo gear money can buy, there’s an ever-rotating selection of classic Fender Telecasters and vintage Rickenbackers that, yep, even Jimmy Page would kill for.
How did this out-of-the-way shop manage to make our list two years running? Dedication. Halo owner Nathan Newell personally trots the globe in search of stunning footwear crafted by true artisans. The result is a prized, if modest, collection that we’d be willing to bet is the best in the entire state. (Seriously. A woman in Iceland recently called Halo in search of a pair of Vialis, which Newell had brought in from Spain.) And when you step inside to visit, that whiff of supple imported leather tickles your nostrils and says to your brain: Your quest will be rewarded. It also says, Get out your Gold Card. (Gadzooks, style ain’t cheap!) But even if you’ve stapled your wallet shut, once you slip on a pair of Dries Van Noten’s yellow high-heeled sandals—with their knotted silk detailing and oh-so-cute ankle straps—you’ll rip it open. Devilishly divine and one of a kind, they’re also soooo comfortable. What’s a girl to do but pony up the plastic and then go trotting out the door a friskier, happier woman?
There’s no apparent rhyme or reason as to why certain merchandise graces the shelves of this quaint-meets-hip curiosity shop—it’s a mélange of old and new, novelties and elementals, utility and whimsy. In one corner there’s a pink, retro refrigerator; in the other, a delicate Japanese tea set painted with bamboo shoots and snowy Mount Fuji. Heavy-duty Smith Corona typewriters sit near elegant necklaces from a local silversmith and three-dimensional paintings by local artist Brenda Rose. Work your way around the eclectic space and you’ll discover handwritten notes from owner Stephanie Sheldon, in which she lovingly explains why she was attracted to a certain something and offers creative suggestions for how you can incorporate it into your own space. (And she’s right, those antique brass perfume dispensers do make great pencil holders!) It’s then you realize that Noun isn’t just a place for things, it’s a source of inspiration.