This post is not the most urban shopping you can do in Portland, but it is a common shopping experience for most Americans and for many Canadians who decide to drive south of the 49.
Oh the allure of no sales tax. Alberta has it. How those of in BC envy our neighbours on the other side of the Rockies. Well, Oregon enjoys the lack of sales tax too. What you see is what you get (wysiwyg). So what is the favourite Canadian pastime when visting the US? Cross-border shopping.
Most people go to outlets when they cross the border. Seattle Premium Outlets in the big off of Exit 202. It’s so big that most Vancouverites know about Exit 202 off the top of their head when going south down I-5.
In Oregon, Woodburn Company Stores in Woodburn, OR is the big daddy of outlets in the state. Woodburn is a 45 minute drive south of Portland. On our trip this time, we crossed the Columbia River into Portland just before 2pm. We checked into our hotel, dropped off our stuff and headed back down I-5 to Woodburn.
We were down there on a weekday, so there were no crowds or line ups, but there weren’t any big sales to speak of. The last time we visited this outlet, the cars were lined up along the off-ramp onto the highway. We almost shot passed the end of the line of cars that time because all the cars were lined up along the shoulder. None of that this time. There were some deals, but I find the outlets have less and less stuff that I actually want to buy. If you’re looking for something specific, you might find it. We got a little something from Le Creuset, but not one of their famous iron cast pots.
After about an hour and half at Woodburn, we decided to head back north towards Portland, but we made a couple of stops in Tigard, a suburb just south of Portland along I-5. We stopped off at another mall called Bridgeport Village. This was one high-scale mall. It made me think of Park Royal Village in West Vancouver, but with stores of a higher scale. So this is where all the money in suburban Portland is. We didn’t stay very long here because we weren’t going to buy anything here.
So our next mall stop was Washington Square, also in Tigard, but along Highway 217 (the Beaverton-Tigard Highway). This is a very large mall with a very large parking lot surrounding it. By the time we reached this mall, it was almost 7pm and we were getting hungry. Not wanting to hunt around for food, we decided to grab dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. Bearing in mind that American portions are much larger than Canadian portions, we order two appetizers, one main dish, and one decadent cheesecake.
After stuffing down dinner, we proceeded to walk around Washington Square. It always strikes me how much more cavernous American malls are than Canadian malls. Our shopping centres tend not to have the high, high ceilings and wide, wide promenades like our American cousins. The only mall in Metro Vancouver that comes close to Washington Square would be parts of Coquitlam Centre where the ceiling is about 4 storeys high.
There were the more typical stores in Washington Square such as Sephora, Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch, Forever 21, American Eagle Outfitters, and even a Sanrio. So we did some window shopping until the mall closed at 9pm. That’s when we drove back to the hotel in Portland. That was a small adventure in taking one wrong turn after another.