On a recent trip to Portland, Oregon my husband and I visited the The Portland Homestead Supply Company. With great classes, knowledgeable staff and an amazing selection of merchandise I could see making this a part of every trip.
Here’s an interview with owner Kristl Bridge:
- How you did you decide to open an urban farming store?
Urban homesteading is not really main-stream…yet. So whenever I found myself needing supplies to make cheese, soap, or to can or ferment a batch of veggies, there was never a convenient place to go where I could find everything I was looking for. I often envisioned a shop where I could walk in and buy everything I needed for my budding homestead. But more than that, I craved a place where I could find a community – a place where there were like-minded people trying to do the same things I was trying. That’s what made me want to open a homesteading store.
- What kind of reception are you getting?
So far, the response has been overwhelming. I think it’s difficult these days to open a brick and mortar store when there’s so much competition on the internet. But our customers have been incredibly supportive – they want our shop to succeed and so we’ve been growing by word-of-mouth. Every day we have customers come in and say “I heard about your store from… my sister, my neighbor, my friend.” It’s rewarding to experience that sort of grassroots support.
- What’s the weirdest request you’ve gotten?
Well, when you run a shop that carries mangles and washboards and meat grinders, there’re not a lot of requests that we consider out-there. We’ve had some requests that I think are great ideas. One woman called to find out if we knew of a fermented food CSA – or in this case I guess it would be a CSFF. She wanted to be able to get weekly shares of sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented veggies. I love that idea and hope someone turns it into a business model. And since we carry grains and grain mills at the shop, we’ve had a few customers request fresh ground flours. That’s something that we’re working on now and we hope to be able to offer a weekly variety of freshly ground flour in the coming months.
- What are your most popular items?
Our line of work is so seasonal. In the spring the best sellers are chicks, seeds, and gardening supplies. As summer approaches we sell more canning goods and fermenting crocks all the way through fall when folks become more interested in charcuterie and cider pressing. Before the holidays we sell a lot of candle-making and soap-making supplies. We also carry a huge selection of Weck jars that are very popular all year.
- How do you get to your store?
We’re located in the Sellwood neighborhood on SE 13th Avenue just north of SE Tacoma. We’re close to the Portland Bottle Shop, Jade, Grand Central Bakery and the Ugly Mug – a pretty sweet location.
- What are your plans for the future?
We’ve had customers from all over the northwest ask us to open a shop in their area. As much as we would love to open shops all over, we’ve decided our first step in expansion is to explore feasible ways to increase our internet presence. From there, who knows…