This past month, I finally made my way to the city of Portland, Oregon. Sitting in the Pacific Northwest, this bridge town did get a lot of rain. The kind of rain where the locals refused to use umbrellas. The kind where the locals still bicycled their way through town and run laps around the park to get their cardio workout. So much to be told about this town. Its uniqueness and I will write a few segments to retell those stories. But for now, I’d like to share with you my time spent at the Pendleton Woolen Mills factory.
The mill, originally built in 1893, in its early years, the business experienced moments when it became unprofitable due to various economic states at the time. Like an increase in freight tariff for example. But it didn’t stop there, the intuitive business concepts for quality products and distinctive styling revived this plant. The production of Indian blankets resumed. According to Pendleton – “A study of the color and design preferences of local and Southwest Native Americans resulted in vivid colors and intricate patterns. These Pendleton blankets were used as basic wearing apparel and as a standard of value for trading and credit among Native Americans. The blankets also became prized for ceremonial use”.
The factory outlet at the mill sets up at a giant warehouse with working office spaces. Maneuvering your way throughout sections of the factory is exciting. It is a mashup of home goods, along with mens/womens wear and accessories. All on one floor. Native print blankets, bed sheets, outerwear to rolls of wools in racks sold by the yard. Then to feed your creative thoughts, there’s a few wild card sections such as scrap wool pieces in crates or shipping containers that are being sold by the pounds for cheap. Friendly staffs, they were very welcoming. So friendly that they offer sewing classes and beyond on a regular weekly basis. Well I hope these photos help to retell my experience better.
Today the company owns and operates 7 facilities, manages 75 Pendleton retail stores and publishes apparel and home direct mail catalogs. Including the one store they have at the PDX airport.