Wednesday, December 29, 2004

A Visit to One of Portland's Cottage Industries

This is not a good way to start out the day. You get in the shower, reach into the soap dish, and come up empty handed. This is what happened to me yesterday. Rather than splattertrack out to the hall closet to scavenge some of B's inferior soap, I made do with what I could find within the confines of the shower stall, and thus ended up seriously depleting my supply of molto expensivo face soap.

Soon after I got out of the shower, I took steps to make sure that never happened again. Scented handmade soap is one of the few girly luxuries I indulge in. So I called up one of my favorite local vendors, the Oregon Soap Company, and placed an order. Since I normally buy their soap at the Saturday Market, I had no idea that their secret headquarters were mere blocks from my house! They told me to come on over—just look for the house with two VW buses parked outside it.

Even without the Deadheadmobiles out front, there would have been no way I would have missed Soap Central. I could smell it 500 feet away—and I mean that in a good way. I rang the doorbell and was greeted by two barking dogs and the Soapmaster Royale himself--a friendly guy in Birkenstocks who wears his grey hair in two waist-length braids.

He took me around the side and had me wait next to one of the buses while he got the keys, giving me ample time to confirm that all the bumper stickers I would expect to see on a VW bus were indeed there. I was stoked! I couldn’t wait to enter the nerve center where I fully expected to see burbling cauldrons of hemp oil and lye and to be knocked loopy by megapotent doses of almond, cinnamon, and lavender essential oils. It was not to be. They weren’t making soap that day, so all the nerve center contained were boxes and boxes of finished soap. The Soapmaster handed me my order, then swiped it back again to swap out a bar he deemed imperfect (looked fine to me). He then asked me if I really needed the small shipping box my six bars were in. Of course, I didn’t I agreed. This is Portland—where we don’t squander boxes on soap that is only traveling a few blocks.

Despite the fact that I didn’t get to witness soap being concocted, I have to say that I enjoyed every aspect of the way the transaction was carried out.


Blogger Sharon said...

What fun. Did you check for the next time the cauldron will be bubbling?

5:24 AM  
Blogger Rozanne said...


No! I should have asked. Perhaps I was a bit drunk on essential oils after all.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

I love this! My soap lady just opened up a shop in a nearby shop and I love going in and smelling everything!

And thanks so much for your comment on my blog. Made my day. :)

2:11 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

I know--there's just something about the smell of handmade soap. Whenever I see some, my nose is drawn to it like a magnet.

7:29 PM  

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