Two years of running a business on Foster is no small feat. And running a business that is about more than selling a product and turning a profit is an even tougher challenge.
In many ways, SMART Collective is like Foster itself: equal parts urban grime, unpretentious-but-hip and beautiful and pure in its own right, and full of an energy that allows it to shine despite circumstances that might not always make it easy to. And just like Foster is becoming home base to young families, musicians, retirees and empty nesters, first-time home buyers and those seeking one of the last vestiges of an “authentic” Portland, SMART Collective has become home base to young people who share similar interests, enjoy the arts, and are determined to create a thriving community. And it’s the latter—creating a thriving community—that best makes SMART Collective a rad little skate shop (though it’s way more than that) AND a microcosm of Foster itself.
See, the outside observer may just see SMART Collective as a skateboard shop. Sure, they have some assorted clothing, too. But there’s more to the SMART Collective story, just as there’s more to the story of Foster as a grimey thoroughfare with bars and autoshops. There’s a community here—and there’s a community at SMART Collective. And it all starts with an old skater with a vision, though he’d say it all starts with a bunch kids without a place to skate, be with friends in a safe and social environment, and imbibe in the arts and culture of skating. Both would be right. They go hand in hand.
Need more evidence of how rad SMART Collective is? Here’s their mission:
“S.M.A.R.T. COLLECTIVE is an interactive skateboard shop in the Foster-Powell neighborhood that hopes to empower youth through providing the resources necessary to explore their interests in active and creative ways. Our mission is to provide space for people in the community to interact via their shared passions for skateboarding, music, and art.”
I’ll go on record as saying that we’d be a way better neighborhood with a SMART Collective on every corner. More on that later, though…
For now, we want to wish them a happy birthday. We also want you, the readers, to know just how much you should be supporting what they’re doing. SMART Collective has become a de facto community center for some of the neighborhood’s youth; a music venue at a time when Portland’s losing them in bunches; and a place to be creative and inspired.
In fact, I think we need one of these for the adults, too. Well, it could be for the adults…don’t be scared (we’re looking at you, people).
If you’ve yet to stumble in the shop (at 6923 SE Foster), you have nearly two weeks to plan your visit, as they’ll be celebrating their second anniversary with a party well worth your attendance on September 26. But don’t just go for the party. Buy some art, buy some clothes, and support the community that has made kickflips and ollies a way more common sight on Foster over the last two years.
SMART Collective’s Second Anniversary Party is on Saturday, September 26. There will be free food (BBQ), live music (starting at 1 pm), art, a raffle, and beer (for adults with ID). There’s a suggested donation of $5.
Make it happen, folks.