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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cargo's New Digs

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Tue, Aug 5, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Longtime Portland import-retailer Cargo (which also has an adorable mini-me in Astoria) began on Portland's eastside before becoming one of the early adopters of the Pearl District 16 years ago. With their lease coming up, partners Patty Merrill and Bridgid Blackburn took advantage of the window to make a change, and set their sights back across the river, where they industrial grit and bohemianism they favor hasn't been polished out of existence. They were able to purchase 30,000 square feet of warehouse space at 81 SE Yamhill.

The building was built in 1908, and has suffered very little alteration, leaving the soaring brick walls, freight elevator, and windows (though they've been boarded up) intact. At a time when worry is growing that the development powers that be are looking to the central eastside as another potential Pearl, it's somewhat comforting to have one of its buildings come under the ownership of a business that takes a preservationist approach. In fact they intend to expand wholesale manufacturing of their own, with an increase in space that's roughly double what they're leaving behind. The top floor will be rented as creative office space (Blackburn agreed when I commented that I hoped the tenants would go easy on the drywall and leave the open floor plan), and Kure Juice Bar will inhabit a narrow ground level retail space that will integrate with the shop floor such that its glassed-in top will be visible from above.

Blackburn says the added space and relocation away from a heavily tourist area will give them more freedom to accumulate the merchandise that moves them along with traditional best sellers, and they're excited to be in a neighborhood that's been accumulating more design-oriented furniture and antiques spaces, like the relatively new Grand Avenue Marketplace. It often seems like Portland's independent business scene is dominated by relatively young ventures (I imagine Cargo in its early days as something akin to Alder & Co.), and it's nice to see an older standby that's survived the city's tumultuous economy not only hanging on but thriving and evolving.

They're tracking an opening in early fall, ideally with some overlap in the old location (380 NW 13th), where big sales are going down in advance of the transition.

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