June 29, 2005
Art, function, and a bit of history meet at Parts and Labor, a “modern lifestyle boutique” that opened June 11 at 112 Third St.
Owner Casey Cunningham sells men’s and women’s clothing and accessories, as well as jewelry, candles, picture frames, belts, gift items, and other items.
“I try to keep a mixture of unknown and name brands,” Cunningham said.
“I like finding things that aren’t available at other boutiques. I got bored with going to places in Portland and finding the same things you’d find in stores in other places.”
One of her favorites is a line of dresses by Portland designer Karaline; just two other stores carry her dresses. Another is Pre-Loved, a collection of vintage sheets made into shirts and dresses.
Plenty of unusual merchandise stands out on the shelves.
“Yesterday I sold the Camaro,” Cunningham said, pointing to the line of handbags on one wall. They are the creations of Kim White of Los Angeles: handbags made from upholstery of 1970s cars such as Gremlin, Camaro, and Firebird. Cunningham said White found a warehouse full of the old upholstery, and dreamed up a new use for the obsolete material.
She also sells vintage slips, hand-dyed in new, pastel colors, known as Glam Garb.
Cunningham goes to trade shows and shops on the Internet, often dealing directly online with the person who made the product.
“I like finding things that you might not find anywhere else in Oregon,” said Cunningham. “It’s fun. You’re not always dealing with reps but with the people who actually make the product.
Enter the very name Parts and Labor: she almost opted for another, more feminine shop name before realizing that she would also carry men’s items. Cunningham plans to design her own t-shirts and other products.
“It takes the labor to come out with the product,” Cunningham said.