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Hall of Shame in Portland

January 2, 2007

My friend Steve points a critical eye (and camera) toward a couple of SE Portland eyesores on his blog, and he’s gotten some pretty irate responses from the natives.  Go to his blog and catch up on the dialogue.  Then head over to Jack Bog’s link and the comment thread that follows.

The two places he targets are fairly defenseless, in my view:  the Dixie Mattress Company on Belmont and the typewriter shop called Imperial Office Machines on the corner of 39th and Hawthorne.  Interestingly, these are the kinds of places that people regard with a sort of affection, calling it “quirky”.  I don’t want a Starbucks or some L.A. boutique shop going up in place of these stores, but I sure would like something different.

Regarding Dixie Mattress, Steve has this to say:

I decided long ago that, with it’s repulsive appearance, erratic business hours and dust-covered garbage on display, it couldn’t be a real retail establishment. Was it a money-laundering front for some crime organization with it’s roots in the Old South? The fact that neither the neighborhood association nor the surrounding businesses can get them to clean up their act added fuel to this theory.

and on Imperial Office Machines:

Their building is all windows and yet they treat it like it’s a hidden and forgotten corner of the basement. There are ancient office machines, crumpled up paper, empty coffee cups and other garbage strewn all over the place. It’s a nasty eyesore that needs to go away.

I have seen what appear to be employees inside, but I’ve never seen anyone actually enter or exit the place.

Does it sound harsh to you?  Sounds more like the truth than anything.  But I can’t resist quoting one commenter on his blog:

Dude — You suck. They have been in this area longer than you. They provide a service. The photo you took of their storefront looks cleaner than most businesses in SE. If the product they offer isn’t needed, they will leave on their own recognizance. You are not going to make a difference so shut up.

Well, sorry mister, but I don’t think Steve’s going to “shut up,” and nor should he!  Perhaps business like these could use some help and may qualify the PDC’s Storefront Improvement Program, which was established to help improve “lackluster business districts.” 

Over on Jack Bog’s blog, Steve issues a fine defense of his stance:

To those of you who stooped to personal attacks, grow up. I don’t need to justify your insults with a response, but I will say that I’ve lived in Southeast Portland — blocks from Dixie — for over 8 years. I actively advocate for shopping locally and responsibly. Anyone who knows me would fall over laughing at the idea of me being called a yuppie.

Those of you trying to twist my words and act like Dixie is some local hero make me feel sorry for your neighbors. Look in the mirror. You’re so busy trying not to be yuppie, corporate, trendy, hip or whatever other word you’ve come up with to assign the people you choose to discriminate against that you’ve become your own worst nightmare — falling all over each other in your clique of anti-hipster indy… hipsters.

One couldn’t say it any better.  Keep it up, Steve.

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