A Certain Lack of Focus

Friday, January 04, 2008

Market Days

Whenever I go to Eugene, I try to get to the 5th street market at least once. Since it's only a couple blocks from the grill (where my mom tends bar), this isn't hard.
marketI love the open feel of the market. While it's not quite as lively or quintessentially Eugene as the Saturday Market, the 5th street market has a relaxed atmosphere and wonderful, recently upgraded design. One of the downsides to the recent renovation is that they consolidated what was an entire wing of the market into a single shop, this is for local crafters and artisans. It's a shame that the local artists get less of a footprint there, but at least the new shops are still locally owned.

storeIt's a bit more upscale than it used to be, which may be a response to Eugene's aging hippie population. If I wanted to be judgmental I'd say it's more yuppie now than hippie, but since I enjoy the shops that do fill the market I'd rather not go there. The second floor has a fantastic little shop of African imports, which is at least some replacement for an imports shop specializing in Egyptian items that used to be across the way. I don't mean to imply that the content is at all similar, it's only similar in that it's unique and exotic.

Just below the African shop is a furniture store with some of the coolest toy chests I've ever seen. It's way out of my price range, but I've never seen anything quite like the colorful creations. On the third floor, in kind of a crappy location, there's a funky little witchy store with little pagan and gardening decor type stuff. The Elephant's trunk, a somewhat expensive but very nifty local toy store, and Destinations, a quirky travel shop, are across the bridge, over a Japanese furniture and decorations store and a pet accessories shop. It's a good assortment with a fantastic layout that encourages leisurely browsing and enjoyment of the surroundings rather than the rushed aggressive shopping usually pushed in our consumer culture.

shopThe wing which used to have all the artisans is now almost entirely foody stuff (I think theres an outdoor shop or something in the middle). Up top are a bunch of little express versions of local restaurants. Below there's a huge coffee/wine/gift shop that merges naturally into a neighboring flower shop and gi-nourmous kitchen store. As in, I've never seen a kitchen store this big outside of outlets or NYC.

I think what I love most about this space isn't necessarily the shops, which are always good for entertainment, but the care taken to make the space comfortable and pleasant. The combination of indoor and outdoor allows you to enjoy the air without getting too wet from the almost certain rain. During nice weather there are sometimes stalls set up in the courtyard and tables and chairs arranged for lounging. They're not associated with any of the shops, and this space has none of the usual pressure of buy or leave. This is a space created for the users, not for commercialism.market


Blackswamp_Girl said...

I think you're right. I'd like Oregon.

Meagan said...

I have no doubts that you'd love Oregon.