By Nancy Varekamp | CNews Editor
There’s a second EcoVibe on Alberta Street. But don’t plan to shop for your wardrobe here, unless you’re in the market for garden togs. You’ll find some of the signature apparel pieces here, but you’ll discover so much more.
EcoVibe Home opened in June at 1906 N.E. Alberta St. It has the same owners and the same environmental, ethical, sustainable vibe, if you will, as EcoVibe Apparel.
Like that 2½-year-old store six blocks west, EcoVibe Home donates to nonprofit organizations that create positive environmental impact, and it stocks products that are environmentally conscious and ethically produced.
When Andrea “Dre” and Leonard “Len” Allen closed their flagship EcoVibe Apparel store on northwest 23rd Avenue at the end of 2018, they planned to concentrate on the Alberta Street apparel store, close to their home and the neighborhood where Len’s family has lived for generations.
But sometimes opportunities just arise,” Dre pointed out. They had mentioned to their Alberta Street landlord Brad Fowler that – because they’ve enjoyed their local retail experience – they’d like to someday expand that apparel store.
Brad said space was available in his new 1930 Alberta building. It wasn’t large enough for an expanded version of EcoVibe Apparel, but it appealed to the Allens.
The large corner windows and the greenery and animals of the mural on the west wall exterior made Dre think of a garden and home décor store.
She originally suggested that her sister and brother-in-law open a plant and home décor store there, similar to DIG Gardens, the store they operate in Santa Cruz, California.
“I don’t want to do that, but you should,” Dre’s sister replied.
The more the Portland couple thought about the idea, the closer it moved to possibility, then reality. Dre comes from a family of gardeners and has a background in botanical medicine.
“She’s my botanical queen,” Len declared.
The products are a different challenge, but not daunting, Dre said. “There’s dirt everywhere, and the pots are bulky and heavy. It’s not like just pulling clothes out of the box and putting them on hangers. “There is more involved, but we love it.”
Her sense of style also serves them well at the new store, according to Len. “The design, the décor here in the store – it all looks like what you’d see walking into our home.”
Len credits Dre’s talents for the new store’s success. “From the day I met her, she’s had an earthy side, and it just had to come out. Here she’s blossomed.
Nancy Varekamp is semiretired from her career in journalism, public relations and – her favorite work engagement – writing and editing targeted newsletters.