- Written by Ben Jacklet
- Category: Business
- Published: June 24, 2014
I got the opportunity to check out the big old building that will become the new evo store in Portland's Central Eastside yesterday, and I was struck by two things: how much has been done so far, and how much work remains to be done.
The folks at evo have ambitious plans for their first action sports and fashion store outside of Seattle. They are leasing a huge, historic building formerly occupied by the Salvation Army at the corner of MLK Way and Southeast Ash, in the heart of Portland's up-and-coming Central Eastside. The neighborhood is home to Produce Row, Distillery Row, the newly expanded Portland Streetcar, some fast-growing start-ups and nearly a dozen brew pubs, along with the popular outdoor retailer Next Adventure and numerous bike shops.
“There’s a lot going on in this neighborhood for sure," says Jordan Sunshine, General Manager for Portland's evo store. "Give it five years.”
The building evo chose is huge, and it is being completely transformed. Workers from R & H Construction, the company that built the Keen Garage in Portland's Pearl District, are busy ripping out junk and rebuilding the building's core to expose buried foundational treasures, put in large windows and open up the interior for natural light.
While this is happening, Sunshine is sifting through resumes and making inquiries to find the right employees and partners. He has hired two supervisors out of the 20 or so employees he will need for Year One, and applications have been pouring in since evo announced its plans for Portland in January. Sunshine is also looking for some good tenant partners to share the new space, possibly a cafe and/or brew pub for the lower floors and a company that runs events for the spacious third floor. To make sure the co-tenants fit well with the overall concept, evo is taking the lead on finding and signing up tenants.
Sunshine, a skier who started out working in the evo tuning shop in Seattle, led a small group on a full tour of the half-finished store on Monday, June 23, starting with a gritty wall that will become the entrance to the new store. Picture a bright glass garage door leading you into the shop:
The main entrance will bring you into an area Sunshine calls the "Best in Breed" hallway, for displaying a variety of top products in rotation. There's quite a bit of work to be done in this area, as you can see:
The stairs to the right of the worker pictured above lead down to a tuning shop/will-call area that needs even more work. To the left will be cash registers and first-floor wares of technical gear, accessories and soft goods. The skis and snowboards and boots will be upstairs, situated next to enormous floor-to-ceiling windows to tempt passing commuters on MLK and the new Eastside Streetcar line.
Here's the view through a window to a large building across the street that is slated to be converted into apartments, yet another sign of a neighborhood in transition:
This being Portland, evo also plans to sell bikes here. There's a space set aside for bicycles on the second floor: mostly urban commuter rides, although the company may delve into mountain bikes one day.
There will also be an outdoor patio of some type, possibly with a skate park, and a gallery showing action-sports-themed art. When evo CEO Bryce Phillips spoke to Shred Hood in January, he explained that evo's goal from the beginning has been to be more than a business. He said his primary influence as a business leader is Patagonia founder Yvonne Chouinard, and he and his team subscribe to eight core values to guide evo as it expands: authenticity, balanced ambition, credibility, style, leadership, respect, communication and evolution.
Phillips was born and raised in Southern Oregon, and he is stoked to move into the city where he used to shop for ski gear as a kid.
"We can't wait to establish evo in Portland as a place for people who share a passion for skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, music, art, travel and the lifestyle that we live and breathe," Phillips said.
There will be plenty of space in the new store for films, parties, classes and gatherings, and there will be even more room for extracurriculars if evo can partner with an events company to lease the third floor. The top floor is spacious and attractive enough that evo's management team has even entertained the notion of moving their headquarters from Seattle to Portland to occupy a sweet urban space. Here's the view of Big Pink through the third-floor window:
There is no denying the potential of their project, but R & H and evo have a lot of work to do over the next few months. Their plan is to open in the fall, possibly as early as October 1, and to host a grand opening celebration in November. Between now and then they will be cranking away to complete a massive remodel of a historic building, to hire a full staff for the store and the tuning shop, and to find the right partner tenants to help transform the building into a true community gathering place.
That's an ambitious summer to-do list, and it will be fun to track track their progress as opening day approaches.