Rad Retailers: Culture Creators

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For RANGE Magazine Issue Nine, we looked at retailers who appeal to the human desire for tactile discovery. Eclectic merchandising, immersive scents and real-world communities give these brick and mortar outposts a quality that pixels on a smartphone can’t replace.

See See Motor Cafe: Portland, OR
Motorcycle Culture for the Rest of Us

See See Motor Cafe has pulled off a magic trick. They’ve made riding on a death trap an inclusive outlet of creativity. Their East Burnside complex houses a cafe offering delicious expresso or $2.00 cans of PBR, a retail store selling everything from retro-inspired graphic tees to carburetor parts, and a gallery space hosting motorcycle-related events and art shows. Their annual “One Moto Show,” now heading into its 10th edition, brings together people from all walks of life in celebration of motorcycle culture. When a family in their community was facing a child diagnosed with rare health complications, riders of all kinds—from Harley dads to Moped hipsters—got together to raise funds in support. By highlighting the creativity of motorcycle culture, they’ve built a community that welcomes everyone and changed the stereotype of riding on two wheels. An interesting case study for the modern outdoor movement.

ROVE: San Diego, CA
Travelers Turned Hosts

Blake and Jenna Robertson turned the inspiration of their seven-month world tour into an ongoing retail and community space called ROVE. A curated selection of beautiful home goods, well-designed outdoor essentials and mind-expanding literature encourage an adventurous way of living for guests of their Normal Heights shop. Prompted by their customer’s adventures, the duo created a monthly speaker series dubbed “ROVE Abouts” to cover everything from a touring cyclist’s global travelogue to Scott Turner’s new take on the trail guide, Afoot + Afield, titled in tribute to the late Jerry Schad. ROVE is the new explorers club helping people from all walks of life find their own passion for adventure.

UNBY: Tokyo & Osaka
Japanese Camp Curation

UNBY in Harajuku feels like the obsessive version of an equipment shack at a summer adventure camp. While the walls are covered with the same tan pegboard, the products displayed on them are far more tasteful than what you would have used as an adolescent. In one corner, camouflage-printed outdoor chairs are paired with the bold, white finish of a Primus camp stove, which can be slung over your shoulder for easy carry. Common garden utensils are hung with a jeweler’s care behind the counter, creating a scene of simple beauty. Merchandising according to pragmatic purpose like “camp lighting” is creatively disrupted by a creative lay down of these products in black. The choose-your-own-adventure experience and laid-back staff make discovering new camping equipment a leisure art.

Images courtesy of Anthony Scott, ROVE and UNBY.

Rob Darmour

This article was originally published in RANGE Magazine Issue Nine.