During back-to-school shopping season, many parents dread the ritual of hitting the mall and big box office supply stores even more than the struggle of figuring out common core math. This fall, ditch the chain stores and get your kids ready to learn in style by shopping at these distinctly Portland spots.
Outfit your stylish students at Portland’s Black Wagon, which sells clothes for kids up to 14 years old. High-top sneakers, white Vans and galoshes in bold colors make for on-trend playground-style; and with Star Wars socks and David Bowie-inspired leggings, this North Mississippi Avenue store’s stock is anything but boring.
Get ready to squeal as soon as you step into Collage, an arts and crafts store with locations in Portland’s Sellwood, Richmond and Alberta neighborhoods. The shops stock everything your kiddo needs to excel in school preparedness, from scented markers and Popsicle sticks to an entire wall of Washi Tape.
Find the perfect homework planner at Little Otsu on bustling Southeast Division Street. Founded by a local vegan couple who used to make zines, it specializes in letterpress prints, super-hip notebooks and paper goods printed on recycled paper with soy-based ink. Their signature planners (which are illustrated by independent artists) have blank calendars, so kids can fill in the dates when school starts.
Mako The Children’s Shop
Walking along trendy Northwest 23rd Avenue, it’d be easy to overlook the below-street-level Mako The Children’s Shop. But if you walk on by, you’ll miss a store filled with top-quality clothes for your preschooler and elementary-aged kids, with nary a logo tee to be found. Check out the charming collection of Asian-inspired print outfits, and don’t leave without scoping out the soft sweaters and hats knitted by the store’s owner.
Find an assortment of adorable shirts, hats, toys and shoes at Polliwog, a twee children’s boutique on Northeast 28th Avenue. The family-owned business specializes in clothing handmade from natural and organic fibers, with plenty of outfits made right here in Portland. Bonus: It’s within walking (or biking) distance of Migration Brewing and its kid-friendly menu.
Presents of Mind
Gift shop Presents of Mind packs just about every square inch of its Southeast Hawthorne storefront with back-to-school treasures — think screen-printed book bags, Portland-made T-shirts and beautiful notebooks that put Mead to shame. For extra credit on the first day of school, pick out a hand-printed card for your little one’s new teacher.
If your class supplies list calls for jars of mismatched buttons, vintage comic books or a handful of Mardi Gras beads, Southwest Portland’s Scrap is your go-to spot. This arts and crafts hub relies on donations, so shopping is like a treasure hunt. If you don’t have time to dig through bins of assorted craft supplies, check out the wall of pre-packed crayons, pencils and markers at bargain prices.