Monday, June 24, 2013

Window Shopping in Fantasy Land

Our expedition to "Fantasy Land" started with a conversation about looking for another pair of trouser jeans like the ones my daughter Rebecca found for me when we shopped together four years ago at the Lincoln City Outlet Mall. "I should have bought two pair and saved one for when these wear out."

"You almost didn't buy them even though I told you they were a perfect fit." Rebecca, the costume design major, is confident, "I have a feel for what looks good on you. Now do you believe me? I'll go online to see what I can find."

The next thing I know we are driving south on the freeway through a suburban wasteland to a mall Rebecca visited once and thought was creepy. "I can't describe it Mom. You have to see it for yourself. I wouldn't suggest going to this mall if it wasn't the only place in Portland with a Coldwater Creek store. They might have the jeans you're looking for."

Visual overload distracts me from taking the right turn-off. After we circle back to our exit and cross over the freeway, Rebecca points to a street lamp lined avenue between buildings reminiscent of a town on a movie studio back lot. "Turn here Mom." I turn the car into Bridgeport Village, "the Pacific Northwest's preeminent fashion and lifestyle shopping center." (click here to visit website)

"I see what you meant when you said I have to see it to believe it. This place is crazy."

Rebecca laughs, "You haven't seen anything yet. Wait until we park the car."

We find a spot to park in a garage at the end of the street. The first thing I notice when we arrive at the "pedestrian only" street lined with a controlled mix of architectural styles, is piped in music. We stop at a directory to look for our destination. It reads like a list of advertisers in Vogue, American Apparel, Ann Taylor, Anthropology, Eileen Fisher, Sacs Fifth Avenue. The map shows a layout similar to a small town with shops along streets that cross at a central square. Main street ends at an art deco movie palace.

Window shopping along the way, we cross the square, decorated with a stone waterfall topped by an eternal flame, to the doors of Coldwater Creek. Fashionable sales associates in their fifties and sixties swarm just inside the entrance. One approaches us before the door closes. "Welcome to Coldwater Creek. Can I help you find anything?"

"Do you have trouser jeans." Rebecca asks.

"Right over here." she says, "Are you looking for stretchy denim? I just love my stretchy denim." The woman takes a pair of eighty dollar old lady jeans off the rack and pulls on the fabric. "These are the most comfortable pants I've ever worn."

Outside again Rebecca shakes her head, "That woman had no idea what we were talking about when we asked for trouser jeans. Sorry Mom, I thought they might have what you were looking for."

We weave in and out between candy, cookie, and cupcake kiosks shaped like Victorian wrought iron gazebos to stop at a few shops with clothes made for toothpicks. While we sit around an outdoor table eating a faux chicken sandwich at Native Foods, a vegan junk food restaurant, I take in the imitation small town atmosphere, "the only Disneyland features missing here are Mickey and the princesses."


  1. ha! Loved your description of both following the chimera and this commercial fantasy land. Maybe if you had sat a while you would have been able to identify Mickey and the princesses? I do find it sad the true Main street America is dying - historic downtowns full of empty or boarded up shops while the retail has moved to these kind of frothy malls. I love places which manage to do creative urban renewal with their downtown buildings. Was walking in my nearest small town Pahoa yesterday looking at the boarded up empty buildings in the "commercial district "- one street of beautiful little buildings which look like a set for a western movie. Yes they are a bit dilapidated but I wish I had the resources to buy some of the building currently on the market. Make studio apartments upstairs and studio/gallery/shop downstairs....dream on....the people are shopping at Walmart, Home Depot, Safeway or Target in Hilo 20 miles away while the small town slowly dies. Except for the bar....

  2. Yes, it is sad about real main streets being replaced by shopping malls and big box stores. I'm proud to say I have never stepped foot in a Walmart.

    I can't stand suburbia. It makes me crazy to go there. Shopping in general makes me crazy. May the clothing gods protect my one pair of jeans so they don't wear out for four more years.

  3. "Visual overload distracts me from taking the right turn-off...." True in so many ways. Too much to see, too much noise or too many distractions send me running to a private, quiet place. (One of my favorite books is "The Thunder of Silence," by Joel Goldsmith.)
    How great that you and your daughter have such a fun relationship. And "faux chicken"? What a way to top off the day.