Cart culture

Cart culture


Erin Sutherland has found operating a vintage dress shop in a 1965 Bristol Lodekka double-decker bus attracts more attention than a traditional storefront would. "It creates an intimate retail setting customers don't get anywhere else," she says.
// Photo by Alexandra Shyshkina

When Erin Sutherland first opened Lodekka, a vintage dress shop in a double-decker bus in Northeast Portland, she had to coax passersby accustomed to food cart protocol to come on board.

“People are trained that they stand outside of a cart and get something from inside,” Sutherland says. “It took us a long time to help customers overcome their discomfort and cross the threshold.”

Now sharing a parking lot on North Williams Avenue with the vintage and handmade goods cart Wanderlust, Lodekka enjoys a steady stream of customers who seem to have no qualms about jumping aboard.

Emboldened by the success of Portland’s close to 700 food carts, a growing number of entrepreneurs are applying the cart model to their non-food businesses. Within the last year and a half, a hair salon cart (Salon Bucci, Southeast 50th and Division), a bike repair cart (The Bike Rack, Southeast 82nd and the Springwater Corridor) and several vintage clothing carts (Lodekka and Wanderlust; Yours Vintage Treasures, Southeast 52nd and Foster) have set up shop throughout Portland, most near existing food cart pods.