PORTLAND, Ore. — As Rip City continues its momentum in the NBA playoffs, local businesses are reaping the rewards. If you are looking for some one-of-a-kind Trail Blazers gear you will find a memorabilia goldmine at Cultural Blends.
The Portland brand got its footing in the clothing industry with a little help from a star player, a hat, and a post on social media five years ago.
Owner Troy Douglass is a die-hard, life-long Blazers fan. So much so, his love of the team and sports has become a part of his clothing brand.
“I've been a Blazers fan since birth,” he said.
The Portland business teamed up with Fallen Legends vintage sportswear to offer unique gear right out of their Lloyd Center storefront.
“When sports fans walk in here they feel comfortable,” Douglass said.
Douglass started his small business seven years ago, but it really gained momentum about five years ago thanks to a post on social media from his favorite team.
It happened the day after Damian Lillard made his buzzer beater against the Houston Rockets in 2014.
“He's getting on the plane to go play the San Antonio Spurs in round two of the playoffs. And when he's getting up on to the plane the Trail Blazers snapped a photo of him wearing the hat,” Douglass said.
That hat, a Cultural Blends original design reading “1977” in blazers colors. The post was captioned, “Play like it’s 1977.”
“Everyone in the comment section was asking, ‘Where to you get that hat? Where do you get that hat?’” he said.
At the time, Cultural Blends did not even have an official website, but Douglass managed to sell about 350 hats in just one day. Then, a phone call from the team asking him to sell the hat at the Moda Center.
“I think it was the top seller for two seasons,” Douglass said. “And then we actually had a business that was booming out of our garage.”
Now, at just 29-years-old his brand has gone from a wholesale company to a growing brick and mortar.
“We even had Gary Trent Jr., Blazer's rookie, he came by and bought a bunch of stuff,” Douglass said.
You can also find a wide array of vintage sports memorabilia from Fallen Legends. The two brands make for a sports fan’s dream store at the Lloyd Center.
He knows traditional brick and mortar shops are struggling in an age of online shopping but being part of this niche market is bringing in new and return customers.
“Sniff, touch, feel – like it’s that sense of actually feeling product, touching product. I think that’s something that you obviously miss out on when you’re buying product online. You don’t have that,” Douglass said. “So, when people can actually come in and see nostalgia, their childhood, their memories – things like that. It gives them a sense of euphoria.”
At Cultural Blends you’ll find a lot of Blazers memorabilia, but the shop has something for all sports fans, especially basketball fans, though the ages.
There is a wall dedicated to Michael Jordan, including a classic 1990’s box of Wheaties with the cereal still inside. Don’t try to eat it though, the cereal expired in 1994.
“This whole Jordan era versus the Blazers, that's kind of a strong '90s theme that we like,” he said.
Cultural Blends just celebrated seven years in business, but they've only been at the Lloyd Center mall for about five months. It started as a pop-up shop with the Lloyd Local program, which brought in local vendors for the holiday season.
“It’s been really good. Every month has been a learning curve. We’ve employed five local kids from the community.”
With the Rip City momentum this season. It is a good time to be in business.
“For me it's easy. I've always loved basketball. I've always loved sports,” Douglass said.
The Cultural Blends brand also offers casual West Coast clothes, hats, and other lifestyle merchandise at the shop.
Douglass says his brand is influenced by his passion for learning about other cultures and his own family. His dad is Native American, and his mom is from Guam. He takes inspiration from that cultural heritage as well as a Portland lifestyle.
“If you learn about other people’s cultures that are different than your own – then there’s actually a lot of commonalities. And within those commonalities that brings people together,” he said.
Check out the Cultural Blends store at the Lloyd Center 2201 Lloyd Center, Portland, OR 97232 or online.
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