From the outside, The Meadow is rather unassuming. Set back from the street, nestled between a comic book store and a place that sells fancy dog accessories, you might almost miss it. Thank goodness for the bright yellow sign alerting observant passersby to the loveliness that beckons. That, and the enormous, nearly cult-like reverence that Portlanders have for this place.
Once you step inside the doors of the surprisingly small shop, you’re greeted by the fragrance of fresh flowers. It’s a bit of a shock, especially given that when I visited, the temperature outside was about -10 Celsius (28 Fahrenheit). Apparently, the joke in the shop is that nearly everyone walks in and exclaims, “Ohhhhh, it smells so nice in here!”
Now, I didn’t just wander into The Meadow by accident. It was, actually, the entire reason for my trip to Portland. I met Mark, one of the owners, at a conference in early 2009, and we had been talking about this trip since then. With only three weeks left in the year, it was time. That’s a bit of context for you, and also full disclosure. If you’re a loyal reader, you’ll know that I write about things I like, and not things that I’ve been paid to like. If I had gone down and hated the place, I wouldn’t be writing about it.
(And if you’re not a loyal reader yet, there’s no time like the present to get started. Sit back, have some tea, and read. Leave me a comment and say hi. It makes me feel all fuzzy inside.)
As beautiful as the flowers were, I followed my gaze to what was behind the flowers: a towering Wall Of Chocolate. Two floor-to-ceiling shelves of chocolate, full of old favourites and new things to be discovered. My jaw dropped. I’m pretty sure that I squealed. I gravitated to the shiny new things, caressing the packaging, reading the labels, asking a question and not finishing it before eagerly jumping to the next new thing. And then I would pause in front of something familiar just long enough to catch my breath before I moved onto another new thing.
A kid in a candy store, I was. But this was no ordinary candy store. I ripped my gaze from the Wall of Chocolate to see the most impressive salt collection I’ve ever seen, and shelves of French wine and champagne.
I know this all sounds so stupidly gushy and insincere. It was just brilliant, she cooed. Simply mahhhhvelous. But it really was. As I learned over the course of my stay in Portland, the folks at The Meadow have impeccable taste and they’re not afraid to show it.
There’s a kind of store that I always gravitate to. It’s decidedly girly, usually in a heritage building with lots of exposed wood and distressed hardwood floors. It sells a seemingly random assortment of things, from pillows to cards, candles to soap, kitschy fridge magnets to children’s toys. The one thread that holds all these items together is that someone with great taste chose these items specifically. Somehow, by touching the pillows and smelling the candles, you’re gleaning just a little bit of that taste and elegance.
The Meadow is exactly like that. Except instead of pillows, there’s chocolate. Instead of candles, there’s salt. And wine. And flowers.
3731 N. Mississippi Avenue
Portland, OR 97227