I took a walk this morning to return a library book and was astounded to see an amazing transformation in downtown Kenton. Right next to the library, there’s a storefront that is empty and decrepit looking. It’s owned by a former Blazer who hasn’t been interested in renting the space, which means there is an ugly hole between the bustling library and a very popular coffee shop. This vacancy annoys and offends people, and sometimes they do things like post signs on the door saying the owner is not being responsible. Though I don’t have strong feelings, I wouldn’t mind if something was there.
So, wow, was I blown away to see that suddenly something was there. A furniture shop and and clothing store and a camping/outdoor store? I was just here on Tuesday and there was no sign of any of this. But now three new shops in one fell swoop? I crossed the street to investigate.
I started by looking in the windows of the furniture shop. It was kind of weird that there was no main entrance. I moved on to peeking into the clothing store. It was pretty and hip, but I thought it was weird that they had installed walls that made the space tiny. Because the shop spaces have been open and vacant for so long, I know that this shopfront is a big room of at least 30 or 40 feet in length. But both the furniture store and the clothing shop were only about 12 feet deep. Very strange. Also, there were no hours posted on the door to the dress shop, nor any sort of signage to indicate the business was new to the neighborhood.
Moving onto the camping/outdoor store I saw that it, too was quite shallow. I spent some time trying to figure out if there was more merchandise behind the partitions. How were these stores ever going to make any money?
It was when I stepped back and looked at the door next to the camping store that things became clear. It was the standard Grimm notice I’ve grown used to seeing both downtown where I work and also in the Kenton neighborhood. Grimm is a TV show that is filmed all around Portland, so we’ve grown used to seeing their crews everywhere. And they must need some storefronts or stores for their latest season. This was all smoke and mirrors for the sake of television.
As I was coming to this realization, another looky-loo came up and told me that she had done set dressing and noticed that everything in the furniture store was on clearance from Target. She guessed they would return it after they finished filming. We both agreed the building looked much better with the fake stores.
A security guard, clearly enjoying the amount of attention these stores were causing, said, “If you like those stores, wait until you see the flower shop!” And indeed, around the corner, the window of Fang and Feather, our neighborhood pet supply place, had been transformed into Ken’s Flowers.
Interestingly, Ken’s Flowers actually exists. It’s located in downtown Portland. It was in the basement of the building where I had my first studio apartment. When that building was torn down to make “luxury” apartments, the shop moved around the corner during construction of the gaudy new place and, when construction was finished, took up residence in the new building, on the exact same corner.