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Monday, September 17, 2007

Another soul-ectomy in North Portland

A reader writes:

Thought you would like to know about an old Typewriter shop at 7433 Lombard (Ace Equipment). I have been looking for an old manual typewriter for about a month now when I stumbled along the reference to this shop. I called and asked if they had ones in stock and then took the trek from Newberg to NE PDX. The shop was great. It had the smell of a place that had mechanical things in it for 50 years. I found a beautiful 1940 Royal typewriter with all the bells and whistles 1940 could provide. I paid with cash because he doesn’t take cards (of course he doesn’t).

As I left, I commented on his great shop. He told me to keep the receipt because the shop was being torn down in a month but he would still have the phone number. His father had ran the shop since the 1950’s or 60’s and had rented the whole time. I asked why they were tearing it down. “Condos” is all he said. I shook his hand and got in my truck.

On the bright side, I love the typewriter and the sound it makes when punching the keys. As a old newspaper man, I thought you would like to hear there is a place you can still get those things. At least for another month.

Comments (11)

You know, it's not like that stretch of Lombard is chock full of quaint and booming storefronts. The businesses in that specific area look pretty hard hit and flailing. That little typewriter shop is just a few doors down from this lovely monstrosity

And I blogged about that two years ago, and it looks even worse today. I sure would rather see condos there than that, you know?

Enjoy what you get.

If this guy has a viable business then he can find another place to lease, right? I bet he had a sweetheart deal and can't afford a rent another location.

Don't worry, since no one wants to live in Portland I'm sure those condos will sit empty until they are torn down.

Or fall apart in 10 years.

that section of n lombard was pretty well ruined by the last wave of redevelopment, when storefronts were replaced by a parking lot/strip mall/car dealership type model.

if that area go re-redeveloped the parking lots with sidewalk frontage structures, it would be ready to start building "soul" again. as is... its a bit creepy.

Hope the typewriter guy finds a home in the neighborhood. Think that will happen?

You know, it could happen Jack. There are plenty of small "mom and pop" businesses here in North Portland, like Blue Moon Camera (talk about classic cameras, equipment and service that's awesome), New Orleans Candle Company (refugees from New Orleans who've made a little building on N. Lombard a lovely and thriving business while creating a really nice storefront)...I hope if the typewriter guy really wants to continue having a business in North Portland he makes it happen. There's plenty of opportunity, but letting storefronts decay and not taking care of your neighborhood and not knowing your demographics, well, doing business like that in lots of places of Portland isn't going to make you much of a success. I'm sad a business is closing, but I'm not sad to see that stretch of N. Lombard see some improvements. I hope you took a look at that picture I linked to: does anyone want that in their neighborhood?!

Sad to hear about that.

Even I have an old Royal manual typewriter. Got it from the Goodwill in Corvallis, oh, god, I donno how long ago. Told The Wife™ that I fancied myself a writer, but the truth is that I just love to type.

Seriously. I know that sounds odd, but it's the truth. Type ought to be formed by little metal hammers clacking away. Type is important that way. I love being able to play with type any time on das Komputermaschine, but in a way, I think Johann Gutenberg von Gensfleisch (to use his complete name) is turning over in his grave just a little.

Dang about the typewriter dudes. They also sold affordable computer chairs cheaper than the Goodwill. Plus, that place had a satisfying dusty atmosphere, and all the machines were squirreled away on a shelf in their closed cases, like the wands on Mr. Ollivander's shelf. And the really aged dad would ask you, "What will you use it for?" And then he would move his puffy, twisted hands real slow across the ends of the stack of closed cases as if he were feeling for their heartbeats, and suddenly pull out just the right machine. For my daughter's 10th birthday, it was a groovy cream-colored "Lark" -- now she's 14 and types her 'zine on it. (Ironically, it's called "The Pointless Magazine").

In fact, that place WAS a lot like I imagined Mr. Ollivander's shop in Diagon Alley, with a great big front window giving almost the only light, and dust motes swirling within the few shafts of sunlight that made it past the head shop across the street (or was it a derelict bar?).

I guess we'd have to be living in a fantasy novel to believe that anything as magically obsolete as a manual typewriter shop would be valued in, I believe it's called "NoPo." And behold, soon there won't be any "Po" people left in "No." Avada Kedavra!

There's always Blue Moon Camera and Machine!

He does the repair work on typewriters at Blue Moon. He told me he'd be doing repair work from his basement when his shop is closed, so get his number if you think you might be interested (he also has a great stock of typewriters which I believe will be moving with him), but I'm very sorry his shop is leaving the neighborhood. I may need a typewriter repair shop once in a blue moon, but that's a lot more often than I need a condo.

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