Mountain Sports Northwest

By Nina Silberstein

You could say Jeff Johnson has mountain sports in his blood. His father owned the first ski shop in Bend, Oregon, and Johnson hung out in bicycle and ski shops after school and during summer breaks, starting when he was about ten years old.

He grew up in Bend, lived and worked in Aspen and Vail, Colorado, and has worked for a variety of outdoor sports shops in Portland.

Johnson’s been surrounded by people in the ski business who, as he says, looked out for him and steered him toward a career in the industry that he’s been a part of for the last twenty-five years.

He just opened Mountain Sports Northwest, a half a block east of Fred Meyer on Hawthorne Blvd. and now he’s stocking kayaks, backpacking equipment and snowboards. Bicycles will be in stock soon.

What sets his business apart from others is that he specializes in gear designed for women such as backpacks, bicycles, clothing and swimwear.

“I have a twelve-year old daughter,” he said, “so I wanted to do something for her.”

He tries to order women’s products as much as possible. The main reason why Jeff opened up this store was because of the social environment.

“I could do other things,” he said, “but I just like hanging out at the store, and having my own business allows me to have control over the way I want it.”

Johnson did all the renovations of the space himself, which has home to various businesses over the years. It took nine months. He spent a lot of time on the place and wanted an entirely new storefront on the building.

The inside is lined in all-natural wood with a real outdoor shop feel. “It’s different; pretty authentic,” he said.

Johnson had owned and sold another store in the late 1990s on W. Burnside and had his own line of bicycles when .com businesses were big.

Jeff Johnson

Mountain Sports Northwest sells equipment for now, but he is planning snowboard rentals for this coming winter, and by next summer, he’ll have some mountaineering equipment rentals available as well.

As for his reception in the neighborhood? “I think what people do is come from all over the city, park their cars in the neighborhood and take a little walk up and down the street beyond 39th.” That said, business has been booming for him.

Be sure to stop in to see what the store has to offer and chat with Jeff Johnson about his outdoor experiences. He has wild stories to tell.

Mountain Sports Northwest is at 3953 SE Hawthorne Blvd./ 503.766.8304

NW Scuba

By Nina Silberstein

When he was in the military and lived in Hawaii, Jesse Morgan was a free diver; someone who holds their breath until resurfacing rather than using scuba gear.

Morgan began scuba diving in 1977, dove frequently until the mid-1980s and then sporadically until 2012. Since that time, he has been diving regularly.

With his current business partner, Joshua Jones, the two worked at a local diving shop that went out of business, so they decided to combine their enjoyment of teaching and getting people interested in the sport into a business. NW Scuba is a veteran-owned shop that opened in 2014 located on Milwaukie  St. and serving the diving community.

NW Scuba “is like five businesses in one,” Morgan said. “We do retail, repairs and service, rentals, education and travel.”

They specialize in private, small group and family classes that include snorkeling; recreational, basic, advanced, deep and master diving; equipment skills and specialty classes (e.g., coral and fish IDing; marine, shark and sea turtle ecology) and photography.

The business offers an array of intermediate and technical certifications such as Nitrox and First Aid-CPR-02.

For folks who want to test the waters in a pool first to see if they can handle diving before they commit to classes, NW Scuba provides a “Try Scuba” class.

Local, regional and international trips are also part of the mix, to places like the Northwest’s Hood Canal, the west coast of Florida, Mexico, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, just to name a few.

Jesse and Joshua also support a veterans’ nonprofit called Neptune Warriors. It’s an organization near and dear to Jesse’s heart in particular. Jesse will take donations of used scuba gear from divers who no longer have a use for it and drops it off at the nonprofit’s location in Idaho. Idaho is where his son’s military unit was deployed and although he has since passed away, the organization dives with his son’s dog tags. “They support veterans and emergency services personnel with PTSD. They do great work,” Jesse said.

Joshua Jones (on left) and Jesse Morgan

NW Scuba has a philosophy of being “green” with environmentally friendly scuba products that can help them achieve an eco-friendly approach to diving.

Morgan and Jones participate in river cleanups as well. “We pick up trash when we go diving and to try to keep the environment and waterways healthy for future generations. It’s important to us.”

Leaving the dive location better than the way it was found is a good habit to get into.

NW Scuba is at 2911 SE Milwaukie Ave. See nwscuballc.com 503.442.2810.

 

HMart

By Nancy Tannler

Having a grocery store in the neighborhood is a bonus, especially in our city where walking and biking are the encouraged methods of travel.

When HMart, 3301 SE Belmont St., finally opened a couple of months ago, it brought this asset directly to the local community.

HMart is a Korean supermarket chain, one of the first to locate in central Portland. The store offers the necessities of  daily living and if you understand anything about Asian food or are willing to learn, there is so much more.

The Southeast Examiner spoke with store manager David Son who grew up in New York City where going to HMart was a trip he made several times a week with his mother.

“I would tease my mom that we were treasure-hunting as she would dig through the heaps of vegetables and fruits to find the freshest,” he said.

That is what HMart prides themselves on Son said: having fresh food. The fruit and vegetable section is piled high with all sorts of luscious looking produce.

The butchery aisle is full of meat–marinated chicken and pork, Kobe beef and a freezer full of thinly sliced pork, beef and lamb ready for the hot pot.

From the seafood tanks you can get live Dungeness crabs, shrimp and fish. These tanks are cleaned out and washed every day.

Buyers for the store are taking advantage of all the products available locally like honey, dairy, beer, wine and saki, to mention but a few.

Locals seem to like the large variety of snacks and unique ramen best.

HMart was first established in 1982 in New York and they catered to a very diverse international clientele. Because they want to meet the needs of more shoppers, they also have a Mediterranean section and Asian specialities.

When asked what a person who mostly understands the American diet should know about the myriad of sauces and different ingredients, Son said the best thing to do is have him paged at customer service. He said he would gladly explain what a product is and how best to use it.

You can also go to hmart.com and click on recipes. The store is starting in-store demonstrations that will make recipes people can try.

For those in a hurry, there are lots of eye-catching choices in the deli at very reasonable prices. The frozen food section offers a variety of frozen dumplings, noodles, spring rolls and other pre-baked food.

It is an education to learn about the choices of ramen noodles and instant food available.

In the dining section, they serve three bibimbop bowls. “This is the best Korean comfort food. We hope to have more choices in the future, as soon as we can train more people to prepare Korean food,” Son said.

Like all grocery stores, they also have a houseware/department/drug store section.

The southeast welcomes HMart and anticipates learning more about Korean/Asian ingredients.

 

Morning Ceramics

By Nancy Tannler

Morning Ceramics Studio, 225 SE 6th Ave., is a large space where ceramic artists or anyone wanting to learn can join. This unique work place came into existence because of several love affairs.

Alexa Evans-Pritchard always emulated her cool older brother, so when he made ceramics in high school, so did she. The art absorbed her and by the end of high school, she found she was in the ceramics studio as much as possible.

Evans-Pritchard graduated college with a degree in Hospitality and spent ten years working at a Marriot Hotel, but something inside kept calling to her so she took a break to attend the American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA) in Pomona, CA for two summers in 2016-17.

“I hadn’t been on the wheel in years, but the place was so inviting that my fear went away,” she said and was mentored by high level ceramic artists willing to share with everyone working in the studio, both the hobbyist and the professionals.

Back in Portland, Peter Pritchard was on a three month break from teaching music, graphic design and technology to high school students in Farnham, England.

Thanks to the Tinder app, Peter met Alexa and the sparks flew making PDX his touchstone while traveling in the US. They married the same year.

Balancing work and life is a healthy mantra that reminds people what is important in their life.

Peter and Alexa wanted to find this. Together their passion for ceramics,  and the profound influence of  AMOCA’s work space, a good business plan an d the lack of this type of art space in Portland set Morning Ceramics Studio in motion.

The first artist moved in October 2018. Since then the studio has continued to grow. It now offers ten wheels; handbuilding tables; wedging table; glazing station; Bailey DRD/II slab roller; community tools; individual shelving for all members; and two Skutt 1227 kilns that fire to 1900 degrees.

Evans-Pritchard said it works like a gym membership where the space and equipment is shared with other ceramicists. Classes are offered without membership and no experience is required. They currently offer a six-week Introduction to Wheel  and a six week Introduction to Handbuilding classes.

Like AMOCA, all levels of ceramists are working side by side.

Alexa and Peter Evans-Pritchard (center)

On the day of the interview the studio was abuzz with activity. One woman was getting ready to glaze several mugs she was working on to sell at a fundraiser.

Her prototype had a pearlized looking glaze that made it truly one of a kind.

Alexa and Peter are at hand to help with any questions or problems that arise.

“Portland’s ceramics scene is growing,” Peter said.

Morning Ceramics is in place to support this art community. morningceramics.com