Robert Rahm had been eyeing the Beam and Anchor space for nearly ten years before making a move to try and purchase it. The former auto body shop (some of our favorite spots like Imogene + Willie and Barista Parlor have also involved cars in a previous life) finally became theirs after nearly nine months spent trying to convince the owner to sell. After purchasing in August of 2011, they opened their workspace-retail hybrid shop in April of 2012.
“We wanted to create a retail experience and house a community, ” Robert’s wife Jocelyn explained to us of their initial plan. The two had creative backgrounds—Robert working with wood and Jocelyn a painter—but had no previous experience in retail.
“It was a shoestring project,” Jocelyn said of how they pulled everything together, from building out the space, curating the perfect selection of products and learning the ropes in retail. “It was a very bonding experience—it was sweaty, dirty, messy work,” Robert told us.
One other amazing benefit of the open space that we noticed immediately (now that much of the dirt has been cleared): the smell. It’s an incredible, warm blend of cedar from the furniture designs, leather and essential oils used by Maak Soap Lab.
The creative energy that the space creates is what Jocelyn and Robert really love. “It opens up universes,” Jocelyn told us, “you can only originate so much on your own.”
The creative community in the upstairs space also benefits from the retail space downstairs. Each maker carries products in the store, and they’ve all seen business skyrocket. “People were working up to 90 hours per week during our first year,” Robert told us, “Business has really grown so people can relax a little.” Approximately 70% of the products they carry are from local designers, with many others sourced from Brooklyn.
“We’re always actively searching for new designers. We look for things that are handcrafted with a lot of love put into the process,” Jocelyn told us of their retail strategy.
“We don’t want any filler,” Jocelyn explained to us, “but we really have a leg up in Portland since we have such a thriving creative community.”
Photos by Collin Hughes