Saturday, March 8, 2014
If you're looking for handmade cards, vintage clothing, unique furniture or ... beef jerky ... there's a new spot to shop for it all - and more - under one roof.
Newly opened at 157 Middle St. in Portland is Portland Trading Co., where owner Kazeem Lawal offers up art work and jams just a few shelves away from locally created books, clutches from independent designers and artsy books of matches.
Lawal, who opened his business May 4, call it a "lifestyle store." He's focusing on handmade items from around Maine and New Hampshire, but also includes some wares from Vermont.
"My mantra is 'beyond retail,'" he says. To him that means accessibility, community and love.
"I strongly feel that quality products should not be for the privileged alone," he says. "My job is to walk that extra mile to dig up quality products" that are affordable to the working class.
Lawal has been in Portland since February of 2008 and was formerly in electrical engineering with Fairpoint. He has also worked for AT&T and ran his own ice cube manufacturing company in Lagos, Nigeria. He's also involved with the Maine African Film Festival and has made some solid connections around Portland. His shop is home to an installation art piece by Jen Dougherty of Space Gallery and he's selling The Telling Room's book "Exit 13" (with all proceeds going to the non-profit) at his store.
There's plenty to see and explore in the eclectic space, including this display over the cash-out desk, which Lawal says represents his heritage.
He says he's already had plenty of foot traffic and many other local retailers have stopped in to show support. He encourages people to come back often because his goods will always be changing. He carefully curates surplus boutique clothing and his vintage ware, along with original designs from Milkweed Arts in N.H. The store currently has a cool glass table with two chairs on display by Nate Deyesso of DSO Creative Fabrication.
"It's great to be able to buy a new table for your home that's one of a kind and to be supporting local business and helping local artists to be encouraged to do more," Lawal says.
Portland Trading Co. is open Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Here are a few more items you might find there:
Shannon Bryan, content producer for MaineToday Media, likes exploring Maine - from mattress races to cardboard boats, she's into the weird stuff.
Karen Beaudoin, online editor for MaineToday Media, likes knowing the important things - like who's just opened their deck for a sunny afternoon beer and what Portland's eclectic set of street performers are up to.