Last week when I was walking Auntie Bridgett to the SideStreet Arts for her shift of gallery watching, we ran into a new, delicious place to get lunch!
Young entrepreneur Charlie Funk, originally from Chicago, has opened his brand-new hot dog cart at the corner of SE Stark and 28th. He and Funk’s Franks are pleasant and Covid-friendly, and his hot dogs are very tasty!
I bought a Chicago dog, sliding its tinfoil-wrapped goodness into my shopping bag of so I could enjoy it at home. The pickle was spicy, the neon relish crispy, and the tomato fresh and sweet.
Charlie told me that he and his partner have come out from Chicago and will spend the next few weeks in Portland. At the end of the month they will re-locate near our old stomping grounds, in Santa Cruz, California. They should do well there, in the land of warm dry winters and lots of foot traffic.
You know that Auntie Katie has a bookshop called Books with Pictures. She sells comic books, graphic novels, illustrated histories and biographies, and all sorts of wonderful stories. Her store is at 1401 SE Division Street here in Portland and has been doing very well.
But how can you sell books when people can’t come into your store because of the corona virus shutdown? It isn’t easy, surely, but Katie is finding all sorts of ways.
She has set up a Personal Shopping page on her website (BookswithPictures.com) so people can tell her who they are shopping for, what topics they like, and how much they want to spend. Katie knows her books so well, she can match any reader with something they will like.
She has set up subscriptions so that people can get their favorite newly-released comics every month, or Katie herself will choose books like the ones customers have enjoyed in the past.
She is doing curbside pick-up of these books, so that while you are out getting groceries, you can let her know you are on the way and she’ll have the books ready for you with proper social distancing protocols.
Katie is even doing deliveries! She is driving all over town in the evenings, dropping off books on people’s doorsteps like a literary Santa Claus.
I have always been proud of your Auntie Katie. She makes brave choices and works hard to make them work. She values her community and they, in turn, value her. If anyone can make this work, she can.
Here in Portland, we have a lot of stores that sell their goods out of trucks or trailers. That’s because property is very expensive, and a new business can start easier by renting a spot in a parking lot rather than a whole building.
For example, one of our favorite places to eat is cluster of food trucks on 28th Street near Burnside, and Auntie Katie has her first food truck, La Sabrosita, in her parking lot at Books with Pictures.
But I am writing this to tell you about a Flower truck that has now become a flower shop. Flower Bomb was a truck parked in the lot at SE 28th and Stark. Solara Schoeffler, the owner, had a smallish truck, an awning, and a rented garage across the street to keep her extra flowers in. We would see her out most mornings, pulling wagon loads of flowers across the street in the cold, rain, and heat. It had to be hard, but she was determined.
This past Friday, after I left the First Friday party at SideStreet Arts, I got to walk into Solara’s new building, at SE 29th and Stark. It is wonderful. The large windows will let in plenty of sunlight, and the high ceilings allow for Benjamin ficus and fig trees to reach their potential.
“Look!” She said, sweeping her arms around in delight. “I have a roof! I have a door! I have HEAT!” Friends had come by to help celebrate, serving delicious mango-orange juice ‘mocktails’ , pizza and sweet treats.
Stark Street Studios decorated the shelves with surprising art and customers walked out with summer in their arms despite the chilly rain.
I am so happy to see new businesses doing well in the neighborhood!