At first glance, the shops lining Portland's Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard conjure up many a Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein sketch from 'Portlandia': Independent, eclectic, and proud of it. The reality, however, is less polarizing. While still emanating PDX's easily lampooned eclecticism, Hawthorne (as the greater neighborhood around the boulevard is called) is inviting and appropriately whimsical – not the elitist hipster breeding ground portrayed in the media. In spots, the neighborhood overflows with unique stores, mostly of the vintage variety. Scouring them all would take days, but these five – plus a historic theater and a can't-miss barbershop – embody the diversity and good taste at the heart of the neighborhood.
Crossroads, which trumps its competitors in size, selection, and price, carries music in most formats, though vinyl dominates its shelves. Old concert posters cover the high ceilings, and sub-par lighting makes it feel appropriately dingy. The store's unassuming exterior, coupled with its distance – six solid blocks from the heart of Hawthorne at S.E. 37th Ave., – keep it from getting picked clean. Rummaging through it all, it's hard to imagine going anywhere else for records – a perfect condition vinyl of Elvis Costello's 'This Year's Model' sits in plain sight for only $5. Crossroads has music from 25 dealers, covering most every genre in the musical spectrum. "Psychedelic, post-punk, obscure new wave," says one employee when asked what to sum up the shop's specialty. "Lots of jazz, blues, classic rock," he adds. "Pretty much everything."
Credit: Christopher Onstott