retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Since summer is for all practical purposes almost over, and this is the last MNB until after Labor Day, I thought I'd take a moment to tell you about some of the things that stick in memory from my time in the Pacific Northwest. There are some pictures at left, and in order …

…I loved the idea that my very first day, as I was taking the light rail in from the airport, there were two guys collecting signatures on petitions. The fellow working from the back of the train was working to legalize marijuana, while the guy working from the front was looking to mandate the labeling of GMOs. They did their jobs, met in the middle, discussed what they were up to, and then continued on. Democracy at work, Portland style.

…When I got off the train, one of the first things I saw was the new Apple Store, which is glass on three sides and takes up most of a city block. It is a thing of beauty, just six blocks or so from our apartment, and as I mentioned here a few weeks ago, always busy.

…One other thing about Portland International Airport. Y'know how we all spend so much time looking for electric outlets to plug in our laptops, cellphones and tablets? Well, they've got it figured out in the Alaska Air terminal, with a set of plugs in between every seat.

…Two of the things I could always count on at the PSU Farmers Market, held every Saturday, was that there would be a big line at the breakfast burrito stand, and that it would be worth the wait. Just wonderful. Mrs. Content Guy got addicted not just to the fresh produce, but to the flowers.

…Willamette Valley Vineyards has opened a new tasting room and event center, offering not just their wines but a terrific new menu and a spectacular view of the vineyards. It remains a go-to destination whenever we're in the area (and when you go, make sure you ask for Wende … tell her Kevin sent you).

…Another terrific little winery that we love to visit is Carlton Cellars, in Carlton, Oregon….the pinot noirs are terrific, and you should make sure you stop next door at the Horse Radish for the best BLT you'll ever eat. Trust me.

…The Safeway Portland Waterfront Blues Festival has become a must-see event for us each summer, exposing us to music and artists with which we are completely unfamiliar, but who often manage to reach deep into our souls with their music and lyrics. It is a fabulous use of the city's riverfront, and people are about as nice and civilized as you can imagine.

…I've written about it before, but it deserves a repeat mention - the Foot Bar, in the Pearl District, where they use massage to make your feet about as fantastic as they've ever felt. Trust me. I took Mrs. Content Guy and our daughter there once, and now it has become a regular event.

…The olive oil ice cream at the Salt & Straw. Incomparable.

…Each year we try to hike someplace new, and this summer we did Silver Falls State Park, which takes you past ten different waterfalls. It is one of the most popular hiking spots in the state, apparently, but it was completely peaceful and a lovely way to spend the day.

…Most mornings started with a four-mile jog along the Willamette River…

…And then moved to Stumptown Coffee, where I'd go through email, read students' papers, or just kick back and read a book. I am a person of routine, and this is a great way to start the day.

…One of my favorite new restaurant discoveries was Grassa, where they served a spectacular black squid ink pasta with Oregon albacore tuna, golden tomatoes and Calabrian chili.

…Always great fun is the Oregon Brewers Festival. This year my favorite beer may have been the one with the name that I'd be happy to have on my tombstone: "Witty Moron." (I've been called worse.)

…It was new to me, but the Portland Outdoor Store has, in fact, been around since 1914. The outside of the building may look decrepit, but inside it is bustling, featuring western wear (hats,. boots, etc…) and carrying brands that include Filson, Woolrich, Stetson, Barbour and Levi. A friend of mine who knows that industry tells me that it is one of the best in the category, passed down through generations and absolutely relevant to its customer base.

…And finally, there is Nel Centro, the restaurant and bar just across the street from our apartment. It is the place where Mrs. Content Guy and I would go to enjoy each other's company and some excellent wine, and on a cool night they'll light the fire pits and the evening will turn to magic.

KC's View: