Sometimes you walk into a retail shop, look around, and think to yourself, "DAMN, whoever owns this shop has got it TOGETHER". That's what happened the first time I walked into Ampersand Vintage, a new, smallish, immaculate book/ephemera shop on NE Alberta St here in Portland.
Then, imagine my surprise when I looked up and realized that I KNEW the guy behind the counter! Myles Haselhorst is a fellow Seattle transplant, although I had no idea that he'd relocated to PDX. I knew him from when he used to sell books and other random vintage stuff at the Fremont Sunday Market in Seattle. However, his flea market stand certainly gave me no preparation whatsoever for how cool his shop is.
The thing that makes Ampersand so fabulous, and makes me want to write about it on my blog, is not just the fact that they have cool stuff to look at and to buy (which they certainly do). It's that pretty much every aspect of this little shop, from the graphic design of the business cards and the website to the mixture of new bookshelves make by Nathan from Kerf Design and old lawyers' bookcases, to the way the art is hung on the walls, is (or appears to be, anyway) completely INTENTIONAL. It's as if the complete idea for the shop and all of its accoutrements sprung fully formed one day from Myles' head. It comes across as this seamless expression of one person's passion, and every little detail is just perfectly executed. For a shop that's pretty much brand new, opened by a guy who (as far as I know) has never operated a retail shop before, this level of professionalism is pretty much mindblowing.
In fact, I think I'm a little jealous. I look at Myles' shop, and think about the feeling that I get whenever I walk in there (everything is just so, perfectly placed, and has a reason for being there), and think to myself "do people get that feeling when they walk into my shop? Feel free to comment and let me know! ;-)