On a gloomy December morning in southeast Portland, despite the cement-grey skies and quiet sidewalks, the Holocene building is lit up and glowing.
Look, advertises a sidewalk chalkboard, holiday pop-up shop!
In quintessential Portland style, the warehouse-style lounge space is temporary home to local craftsmen from all over the city. Just in time for the holidays, they come selling their wares, from vintage antiques to wall hangings and everything in between.
I’ve come not only to check out the cool space and see what’s going on in the local craftsman scene, but to deliver coffee for the caffeine-starved leathercrafters of Byline Supply Co., a handmade leather brand. Their booth is manned by two hip locals: founder and expert crafter Austin Boyd and his Jedi leather padawan, Isaac.
The space is filled with a cheerful, earnest hum. Everyone here wants to share not only their products but their stories. There is true beauty in the local, handmade scene — this is more than a passion; for most this is a livelihood.
Right beside Byline is a simple, eye-catching setup advertising Treehouse Chocolate Co. The energetic owner, who introduces himself as Aaron Koch, is a drinking chocolate enthusiast inspired by his time living in Hawaii, working with cacao.
“I used to make chocolate bars,” he said. “But I found myself cleaning out the grinders with hot water and saving the remains to drink. I drink more than I eat, and figured, ‘I don’t know, this is pretty good.'”
Having lived in a treehouse in Hawaii, his goods are a reflection of his own heart and character. His Cherrywood drinking chocolate, made with cherrywood smoked sea salt, is hands down the most incredible salted chocolate I have ever encountered. (Check it out here!)
Portland is known for its hip, handmade scene, and this tiny holiday popup was just a taste of the lurking subculture thriving beneath the cloudy skies.