Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wheel Innovation: Portland's Mobile Boutiques

Innovation is a beautiful thing.  It's what truly makes us human, defining what it means to be capable of creative thought and action.  My beloved hometown of Portland, Oregon is a swirling vortex of creativity.  Each time I return for work or a family visit, I'm never at a loss for a new sight, experience or inspiration.  I adore discovering (and supporting) a new little shop around the corner, eating at a hip hole-in-the-wall diner or taking in a show at one of Portland's many theaters.   The city just seems to bring the best out of bright entrepreneurs.

As it so happens, I received a sparkling new copy of Lucky Magazine in the mail just a few days shy of a weekend business trip to the City of Roses for a speaking engagement.  And much to my delight, page 74 featured an array of mobile boutiques taking the nation by storm.  That's right...MOBILE boutiques, as in a genius, utterly brilliant take on shopping staged in vintage vans, trailers and buses of all sorts.  Have I mentioned how completely GENIUS that is?!  Innovation, ladies and gentlemen...innovation.

Lo and behold, what do I spy in the feature but mention of a Portland-based mobile boutique aptly named Wanderlust.  I immediately hop online to sneak a peek at Wanderlust's website...and I was riveted.  In response to Portland's longtime love affair with food carts, super-saavy couple Vanessa and Dan Lurie took it upon themselves to fashion (all puns intended) Portland's first mobile boutique from a darling 1969 Cardinal Deluxe trailer, selling beautifully curated vintage wears, handmade accessories and other small goodies from the converted interior. They opened shop in September 2010 and have since settled in a permanent location on North Williams Avenue alongside sister shop-on-wheels, Lodekka - a similarly fantastic little boutique nestled inside a 1965 Bristol Lodekka double-decker bus named Ginny.  Lodekka's owner Erin Sutherland found Ginny on Craigslist at a used-car lot in Springfield, Oregon and saw fit to convert it from its former glory in British public transit to a hip vintage-laden lair. While both shops can be found in their cozy nook off North Williams Ave most weekends, Wanderlust continues to travel to craft shows and fairs on special occasions.

{Photo courtesy of}
{Photo by Leela Cyd, courtesy of}

With an hour to spare before hitting the road for home after my speaking engagement, I made a point to see Wanderlust and Lodekka for myself...and soaked up every minute.  I was mesmerized by the sight of the two shops side-by-side when I exited my car and walked across the street to their cute alcove nestled between neighboring buildings.  

Dan (co-owner of Wanderlust) greeted me when I first stepped inside Lodekka.  He was manning both shops while his wife Vanessa stepped away for a moment and Erin (owner of Lodekka) was on a business trip.  I was trying so hard to contain my giddy excitement while browsing, so as not to embarrass myself (as is frequent for the friendly women in my family), but I think Dan saw through my front.  After five minutes of cooing over the adorable vintage offerings, I blurted out that I'd caught word of their shop while reading Lucky mag and I thought they were just so doggone brilliant.  He proudly and graciously smiled and I gladly repeated the whole fanfare for Vanessa when she took the helm from her hubby.  She synopsized their story for me and kindly invited me to explore the second level of the bus, as well as Wanderlust next door, at my leisure - also giving me permission to photograph both boutiques' glorious details.  Like a kid in a candy store, I happily obliged.

{Inside Lodekka...}

{Inside Wanderlust...}

If ever you're at a loss for inspiration, I encourage you to traipse a tad off the beaten path to uncover the ingenuity of another and simply marvel.  As I glanced over my shoulder at the two shops when walking back to my car, I couldn't help but smile.  Thank you Vanessa, Dan, Erin and others willing to step out of the box to encourage creativity in others.  Their brilliant spark will undoubtedly fuel the fire of many a happy vintage-loving customer wanting to blaze their own path.

I wonder if my husband would let me paint our camp trailer pink and transform it into an ode to fashion?