8012 SE 13th Ave., 233-8691, homesteadsupplyco.com.
This extensive store seeks to revive a lost spirit and hardiness for those who would re-create Little House on the Prairie if broadband weren’t so difficult to hook up out there. Homestead Supply understands, however, that the wonderful thing about urban homesteading is that one can choose exactly how much Prairie to bring home. And why not do it beautifully? Whether it’s jam-making in stylish Weck jars ($2.30/pint and up), pickling in lovely Ohio Stoneware crocks from 1 to 10 gallons ($24-$98) or spoiling your chickens with five-grain organic scratch ($2.40), Homestead Supply makes the connection between design-conscious urbanist and rugged pastoralist. Those wanting to further channel the Ingalls family can find supplies for making soap and washing laundry by hand, attractive Aladdin oil lamps ($110) for stormy winter nights, or the preferred amenities of backyard goats (two of which live behind the store). Classes in a variety of homesteading topics are also offered.
Buy this: The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan ($18.95).
1229 SE Nehalem St., 770-0233, beethinking.com.
Close to Homestead Supply, this clean space behind Grand Central Bakery attracts swarms of backyard agriculturalists who find chickens “are just a gateway drug,” as owner Matthew Reed, a wiry young IT manager who stumbled into beekeeping with his wife, Jill, puts it. Reed is eager to share his extensive knowledge of apiarian topics, from the most sensible hive designs to the suitability of Portland neighborhoods for the Apis genus. The store, which also ships worldwide through its website, describes itself as the world’s first beekeeping supplier specializing in foundationless top-bar and Warre hives ($280-365). No idea what that means? Here’s what you need to know: these hives are gorgeous, built by hand in the shop and are as effective conversation starters as the bees themselves. Bee Thinking also offers classes and accessories to promote healthy bees and happy beekeepers, from books and videos to smokers, brushes and other honey-procuring devices.
Buy this: Beekeeping for All (handbook, $20).
8235 SE 13th Ave., No. 14, 914-7636, camphollyhock.com.
“I’m just trying to save these sweaters from their ugliness,” says Camp Hollyhock owner Marcee Whaley-Melton on a rainy Saturday in her cute boutique. Indeed, every item in the store represents rescue and resurrection of one form or another in the re-creations of Whaley-Melton, her daughter Katie and several other local designers. The fabric is obtained from estate sales and donations, and reinvented just enough to keep a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor in the new item, like seeing one of Dad’s old shirts or Grandma’s lace tablecloth reincorporated into playful aprons, dresses and baby clothes. It may be excessive to call this more evidence of Sellwood’s homesteading spirit, but one might imagine the Ingalls wearing similarly repurposed (if considerably less chic) clothes out in Indian territory.
Buy this: Vintage nighties ($30), spruced-up vintage sweaters ($34 and up).
8028 SE 13th Ave., 232-6757.
Until recently, Sellwood glorified the past as much as it sometimes seemed to be stuck in it. A day there meant rifling through the wares of a dozen antique shops, some with specialties like furniture and fixtures, and others gloriously jumbled. As the neighborhood has changed, many smaller antique shops have left. One of the fortunate survivors is Farmhouse, a classic poke-around-and-see-what-you-find kind of place featuring a wide variety of dealers, where green Depression-era glass (prices vary) attracts one set of eyes while vintage postcards from Oregon to the Orient ($1-$8) attract another. It’s not a big place, but looking through the old prints, cast iron, vintage appliances and textiles, it can feel enormous. Also check out Unique Antique and Unique Antique Too (7908 and 8315 SE 13th Ave., 232-5865 and 233-3344, 1uniqueantique.com) and 1874 House Antiques (8070 SE 13th Ave., 233-1874).
Buy this: Vinyl recording of play-by-play from the Trail Blazers’ 1977 NBA championship season, $50.
Cloud Cap Games
1226 SE Lexington St., 505-9344, cloudcapgames.com.
Deep in the midst of the post-PlayStation era, there’s been a quiet but remarkable resurgence in imaginative, social-interaction-required board games. One-year-old Cloud Cap is quickly establishing itself as Portland’s premier source for these pioneering games. These aren’t the color-coded Candylands and play-money Monopolies that distracted you as a kid, though; those are only here as used titles ($10-$20). Organized thematically from fantasy to “resource management,” these games are more intelligent and complex, from Pandemic’s cooperative fight against a global contagion ($40), to Merchants and Marauders’ simulation of pirate culture ($65). “We’re here to help you put play back on the table,” Cloud Cap promises. With a knowledgeable staff, inviting interior (complete with a comfortable “test play” area) and some imagination, the possibilities are endless. Not sure if you want to commit to a more expensive game? Many titles can be rented overnight for just a few bucks.
Buy this: FastTrack, a simple puck-shooting game, $20.
Branches: An Uncommon Card, Gift and Paper Store
6656 SE Milwaukie Ave., 235-7124.
It’s unfortunate that “uncommon” must be the modifier for a shop like Branches. Just as it’s increasingly uncommon to receive greeting cards that don’t involve pop-up windows and Flash animations, it’s also rare to find a card-and-paper-focused shop that doesn’t peddle in saccharine and sentimentality. But at Branches, the cards for all occasions run the gamut, from raunchy and silly, to political and strange, to simply beautiful and refreshingly devoid of prepackaged emotion. It’s a collection clearly curated by a person who knows her community, not some middle manager in Kansas City (where a certain other card company is headquartered). The store also stocks a respectable variety of fancy gift paper to upgrade any gift, large or small. And here’s the thing about giving a box of cards as a gift: usually, you can expect to get something in return.
Buy this: Most 12-card greeting card boxes run around $10. Check out the $1 “gently-used” box outside the door, always helpful when you need just one good card to send.