The happy hippos on the columns and walls outside are a tip-off that Hippo Hardware isn’t your run-of-the-mill shop.
The Portland landmark sells an eclectic collection of lighting, plumbing, and hardware fixtures made from salvaged vintage material. The curious wares span three floors and some 30,000 square feet, and the hippo theme is maintained throughout, with hundreds of pachyderm toys and statues on display.
Far from your average hardware store, pieces of old buildings like the Portland Hotel, City Hall, and the Central Library can be found here in small dismantled chunks, like light fixtures and toilet bowls. Each piece in the store is unique, whether it comes from a local monument or has been lovingly crafted from salvaged material.
Any given item in the carefully curated shop is also likely has an interesting story behind it, which the store’s staff is happy to share. In his Portland-based memoir, Chuck Palahniuk reveals the store is fondly called the “Holding and Fondling Museum,” for the way in which the owners stroke the merchandise to see if it’s worth stocking.