If there’s ever a place you want to get hopelessly lost, it’s Portland’s über-trendy Pearl District. The never-ending menagerie of streets is a surreal walking tour -- a veritable eating/drinking/shopping/kibitzing experience. Artists, Bohemians, foodies, weirdos, tourists and, uh, weirdo tourists all meld together in retail harmony. It’s old school and new order at the same time.
That’s also where you’ll find Keiran Best – a self-proclaimed “gypsy” from the Midwest. Best owns Porch Light, a quirky, off-the-beaten-path boutique filled with old finds and new treasures. Step one foot inside and you’ll realize this ain’t your grandma’s antique shop.
“For a long time I'd talked with my family about how great it would be to bring the amazing ‘junk’ we found in Iowa out (here) to sell,” said Best. “There was really nothing like the antique shops and flea markets we have in the Midwest and I felt like it was something people would really love.”
And Best was right – now her store is teeming with customers who love the ever-evolving array of hidden treasures they might find.
“The shop has now become a mixture of old and new,” said Best. “I still tend to be drawn to things that are more hand crafted, unique, old and worn. We have a lot of locally made and small batch goods as well as antique bits and pieces here and there and all displayed in old cabinets, cases, crates, bins, boxes and carts.”
Best opened her store in Oakland in 2000, but took the show on the road eventually settling in the Pacific Northwest. She admits her eclectic tastes run the gamut. (Read that: you’ll find a hodgepodge of things in the store.)
“Cashmere scarves, palo santo wood, jewelry, plants and planters, alpaca blankets, local chocolates and ceramics. Anything local really,” Best touted. “When people come to Portland they love shopping from local artists and makers. Makes sense as there are so many here.”
Portland – by and large – is quirky and eclectic and the crew at Porch Light is definitely doing their best to keep up appearances. They’re proud of their one-of-a-kind finds. “Over the years, Porch Light has evolved a lot. As most humans do, my tastes and interests change pretty frequently and I try to keep things fresh and interesting in the shop,” said Best. “When I first started it was strictly antiques and I was most fond of things from the late 1800s to the 1940s -- before the days of industrial mass production were really in full swing. Now I bring my own personal experiences, thoughts, preferences, creative vision, taste, style and ideas to everything I do and sell there.”
“How do I put this? Everything in the store is very tactile,” said shopper Anne State. “You just want to pick stuff up and peruse it … feel it. It’s visual overload in a fun way.”
Celebs, meanwhile, have flocked to the shoppe to see what all the nonplussed fuss is about. “KD Lang, Lucy Lu, Milo Ventemiglia, Carrie Brownstein, Isaac Brock, Beth Ditto to name a few,” said Best. “Oh – and Timothy Hutton … my teenage crush.”
The front of the house is open, airy and teaming with unique gift items. In the back of Porch Light, there’s a cool gallery vibe where Best does her best to unleash and unveil new art. Just don’t ask to go back there. “It’s a disaster area. It's so different than the front of the shop,” said Best. “Not lovely at all.”
Next time you’re in the Pearl District, grab your BFF or your GBF or your fave gal pal and make a pilgrimage to Porch Light. Quirky or not, there’s a little something for everyone. “When my tastes change, my products change too,” said Best. “So far people seem to really like what I show up with every day.”
Address: 225 NW 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97209