Store Visit: Woonwinkel

What isn’t there to love about Woonwinkel? The store, which means "home shop" in Dutch, is located on the corner of SW Washington and 9th, with plenty of natural light spilling over the perfectly curated store. What we love most about the store is that all of merchandise is rooted with utility and smart design in mind. Everything has a purpose, from cork globe trivets, inventive wine and beer openers, beautiful reciprocals and vessels, beautiful blankets, to creatively designed children's toys. We spent a sunny Saturday afternoon hanging out with store's co-owner Erica and talking shop and discovering amazing designers Woonwinkel carries at the store.

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Questions answered by co-owner Erica Essink

1. Tell us about Woonwinkle!

Woonwinkel is at 935 SW Washington, in the West End Neighborhood in downtown Portland. The neighborhood is quickly transforming into a destination for amazing shopping and dining. We've been open for 2 1/2 years, our first day of business was May 12, 2011. Open Monday thru Saturday, 11 - 6 and Sundays 12 - 5.

2. What made you decide to open a store front?

This one is a bit tricky to answer.  The whole thing was a very organic, serendipitous process.  Kristin (Van Buskirk, co-owner) and I have been close friends for almost twenty years.  Several years ago we started fantasizing about how great it would be to run a store in Portland which focused on good design and after many, many conversations over dinner and wine (And some significant personal life changes for the both of us which made this reality more possible.), we went for it.

3. What is the concept behind the store?

Woonwinkel focuses on well made, handcrafted goods for the home. Our aesthetic is new modern: modern with soul, warmth, humor and a few quirks. We showcase independent designers from all over the world, with a particular affection for makers from our home, the west coast.

4. How did you come up with the name Woonwinkle?

Kristin was living in Amsterdam during part of our planning phase and woonwinkel was our code word, an easy way to refer to the idea of the shop we were building. When it came time to name the store we had grown very attached to "woonwinkel" so we kept it. The word means "home shop" in Dutch.

5. How do you find designers you showcase in your shop?

Kristin was very fortunate to see a lot of work by European designers in person while she was living abroad and brought many ideas back with her. We also get referrals from designers we carry, we have people bring work to us, and we spend a lot of time on the internet!

6. What are your top 3 favorite things in the store?

I truly do love everything we carry but I also have definite favorites! Right now a few are -

1)  The perfect bottle opener - A magnet to stick to your fridge, a magnet to hold the cap so it doesn't fall, it looks cool and it works the first time every time, all for 16 bucks.

2)  We recently started carrying these amazing blankets from Zuzunaga in Spain.  The patterns are beautiful and intricate and the softness and weight makes them so incredibly snuggly.

3)  Bend Seating Trophy Heads - Made in LA, these designed with complex mathematical formulas and look fabulous on the wall.  A domestic, animal-friendly trophy head!  There are several examples on the website besides just this one. 

7. What’s a funny shop story you have?

Most of my funny stories are a bit off color so how about we change this one to interesting shop stories? That work? An interesting story that makes me proud is when Fred Armisen came in and went crazy for our store. He just loved and bought a bunch of things. Diane Keaton also came in once - swoon!

8. Who are your style icons?

Well, Kristin and I both busy working moms so we try to keep things simple. But in a perfect world it wouldn't be terrible to get all dolled up like Kate Moss every day...

9. Where are your favorite places to shop?

Kristin is a big fan of Steven Alan and Table of Contents.  I think Beam & Anchor and Ink & Peat are really lovely and and I also really like Leif Shop online.