We all know about the “Heart of Foster,” the so-called “Red Light District,” and the emerging scene taking shape around Firland Parkway, the Portland Mercado, and the entryway into Arleta at SE 72nd. (Can’t we just call it the Foster District, already?) But there’s another stretch of Foster that’s holding its own and making some noise. Hovering around SE 60th, we’ve seen the one-block stretch of commercial space transform in the last year and a half, as Meticon Bikes (the longtime holdover) has seen the following neighbors move in: Green Noise Records, Nayar Taqueria, and, now, Velvet Goldmine (first preceded by Renaissance Guitars). And this amidst a backdrop of Torta-Landia around the corner, FoPo Tavern across the street, along with a barbershop, Filipino restaurant, and a salon. The newest of them all, Velvet Goldmine, has added an extra splash of color to the stretch, which goes along with their assortment of vintage and handmade clothing. Today we introduce you to the shop’s owner, Loni Gaghan.
1) So, Velvet Goldmine. Glam rock and David Bowie come to mind first, but you have a rad little shop with the same name. Tell us about your setup and what folks will find when they come in?
“Visitors to Velvet Goldmine will find a small, colorful shop filled with vintage clothing and accessories, concentrating on 60’s and 70’s fashion. I have a weakness for psychedelic prints, ethnic pieces and anything embroidered. Most of the stock is women’s wear, but I do have a rack of men’s clothing, which I am working on expanding. There is also a rack of clothing that I make and design in the shop and will be stocking more handmade goods in the near future.”
2) And Poe, the cat?
“Poe! Poe is Meticon’s shop cat, though he has been known to take a nap in Velvet Goldmine’s dressing room, on a cheetah print cushion, no less. I’m hoping for more frequent visits in the future.”
3) Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been making/selling clothes?
“I grew up in Virginia, studied art in college, then drove across the country to check out Portland, and never went back. Now I’m married to a wonderful guy, I’m a stepmom to the most awesome kid in the universe, and I’m doing what I love for a living.
“I started making clothes soon after moving here 12 years ago. At first I re-worked thrift store finds and took garments apart to figure out how they were put together, and I slowly learned how to put in a zipper, make darts and put in a sleeve. A few shops in my neighborhood stocked my designs early on, and I sewed in my free time while working full time jobs. Six years ago I opened up my shop, Love To Love You, on Etsy which has been a close to full job ever since, and then last year I started my vintage shop, Velvet Goldmine Shop, on Etsy.”
4) We know you live in the area, but how did you choose Foster for your first retail space?
“I wasn’t exactly planning on opening a storefront, but here I am! I know Ryan and Rick from Renaissance Guitars, and when I found out that they were moving the shop, decided to inquire about the space. I had always dreamed of having my own little shop, and figured why not do it here, and now? Having sold almost exclusively online, except for yearly craft shows, I felt like I was missing out in being involved in my local community. It’s so nice to be able to meet customers and interact with neighbors. I find it more fulfilling than doing all my business over the internet.”
5) And your experience thus far? And what are your hopes for Foster as it evolves?
“I’ve been open for less than a month, but I’ve already met so many neighbors and everyone has been so welcoming and supportive. I love the grittiness of Foster, the lack of condos, the multicultural businesses and the fact that I can walk to work. I’m excited about the streetscape plan, which should give Foster a bit of a facelift and make it more bike and pedestrian friendly. I hope to see more small businesses open in unused spaces, and would love to see the Bob White become a full time theater. There is so much potential on Foster and I would love to see it full of thriving business supported by those in the neighborhood.”
6) Being from the area, what are some of your favorite spots on Foster?
“I live it Lents, but consider Foster an extension of my neighborhood. I have to show some self restraint not to eat at Taqueria Nayar ever day. I love having Green Noise down the block, as one can never have enough records, and Meticon will take care of me when my bike gets a flat. I love the Slingshot for beers and pinball, and peeking in the windows at Artistic Taxidermy. I’m excited to check out Foster Row, as I love that there is a community of fellow makers down the street.”
7) If there was a song or movie that best characterized the neighborhood, what would it be?
“Perhaps Mystery Train by Jim Jarmusch, which takes place in Memphis and has so many interesting characters and a great soundtrack. I think Foster would be a great backdrop for a Jarmusch film. It would be shot in black and white and Tom Waits would be singing to himself on a street corner.”
I’m pretty sure Loni nailed it with the Jim Jarmusch and Tom Waits reference. But more importantly, she’s got a rad little shop you should all check out. Make sure to support your local businesses, y’all.
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