The Clothes Horse on Broadway

Score.

Just when I think I’ve exhausted my 60s Portland finds, this sucker falls out of the sky.

The Clothes Horse [no, not the Clothes Whore] was located at 721 SW Broadway and was billed as “one of America’s most outstanding specialty shops!” [The exclamation point is theirs.]

The keyword here is “specialty” – based on the photos from the postcard, it looks like the joint sold clothes, hats, knick-knack and accessories for the cast of the Valley of the Dolls. The shop had different sections to the store.

Here’s the opening shot:

clotheshorsesmall

Let’s zoom in, shall we?

ch1The Gift Horse section – featuring a less-robust Joan from Mad Men.

ch2

Men’s Clothing – back in the day when clothing and interior design were one.

ch3

The Casual Downs Shop – anything but.

ch4

The Winners Circle.

Here’s the back of the postcard in boring old black and white:

chback

The site is now Cramer Hall at PSU. Nordstrom.

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32 thoughts on “The Clothes Horse on Broadway

  1. Looks like Google messed up this time around. The 700 block of SW Broadway is where the downtown Nordstrom store is now located.

    This block did have a number of different small stores and a movie theatre on it that were demolished in the 1970s to make room for Nordy’s.

    1. Hi,

      I worked at that store for about three months just after getting out of the Navy in 1955. One of my jobs at closing was to turn off the sound system. I often forgot to do it and I heard about it the next day. They had the greatest music; I remember “Taking a Chance on Love” by George Shearing being my favorite tune.

      Thanks for the memories!!

      Duane Melcher
      Mt. Vernon, Washington

      P. S. Can you tell me just when the store closed down for good and why? Thanks again.

  2. I’m pretty sure the Clothes Horse was a chain… swear I remember seeing that logo when I was a kid in Corvallis/

  3. OMG I think I remember that men’s dept. They tried to sell me one of those plaid sportcoats. (1968) Found something more sedate in (probably) Meier & Frank’s.

  4. I remember going in there with my parents in the 60’s. The mens department smelled of Borkum Riff pipe tobacco, the Winners Circle was where I touched my first sable coat.

    It was ‘fancy’ and we were told to be on our best manners.

  5. It was a wonderful store. If I remember rightly it was owned by one of the Horenstein family (I think it was Max Horenstein) who were prominent in Portland clothes retailing for decades. I think one of them owned The Gay Blade (also a clothing store), renamed simply “The Blade” after the secondary meaning became the primary meaning.

    1. Thanks for the info, Isaac. On Main Street in Milwaukie where the Gay Blade used to reside, there’s a plaque in front of the storefront with the logo.

    2. I worked at the Washington Square Gay Blade and one of the Horenstein’s sons worked there at the time. They were a quality clothing outlet with nice suits, sport coats and slacks. Each employee was trained to mark suits for proper alterations and we took pride in ensuring our suits draped well.

      1. Hey Ken, My name is Blake Horenstein, My father is Greg, Who worked with you at The gay blade, His father owned the store, If you dont Mind helping my father, he is looking for Jolene Jones, another worker at The Gay Blade during the 1980’s (the same time you and my father Greg worked there), if you can, please reply to, or email me at blake.sanfordhorenstein@gmail.com, Thank You For Your Help

    3. Earl Horenstein owned The Clothes Horse stores. Located in Portland and Palm Springs. He was my great uncle; brother to my grandmother. The Gay Blade stores were owned by another part of our family but not The Clothes Horse.

    4. Found a nice blazer at a thrift store this spring. Has a patch that says “The Blade — oregon and Washington.” Fits like a glove. Nice to know it has some history.

  6. The Gay Blade!!!oh what memories. Had a friend that worked there. Had a store in Washington Sq. One in Lake O. When it changed it’s name to The Blade, it never recovered the image.
    Also remember downtown before Nordstroms. Lipman & Wolfe’s, wonderful lunch counter on the mezzanine level. Never could afford to buy clothes there but would sit in the mezzanine and watch the women shoppers on the ground floor. Quite cheap entertainment.

    1. Lipman & Wolfe’s was Portland’s classiest department store! The lunch counter on the mezzanine was called “The Chocolate Lounge”. There was a larger restaurant upstairs, I believe on the seventh floor. Perkin’s Pub was located downstairs near the “Sandy’s Camera” counter. I remember Leo Smith who managed the camera store and one of his wonderful staff, Helen Nesbitt. Lipman’s was noted for the wonderful fragrance that permeated the store… kind of a bayberry scent. Their Christmas decorations were simple and very elegant. Lipman’s was the Portland home of the Cinnamon Bear. My great Aunt would take me every Christmas season to see him and receive cinnamon cookies. Mary, thanks for the mention of Lipman & Wolf’s… you’ve conjured up a wonderful bunch of memories for me!

  7. The Clothes Horse – was NOT a chain,although they had a store in Palm Springs. It was way ahead of its time fashion wise for provincial Portland. Very hip, spendy & colorful. What they sold was high quality & beautifully made. You can still find apparel from the store in vintage shops around Portland.
    Barbara

  8. My grandfather is pictured in the background of the postcard photo of the women’s department. He was the custom tailor at the Clothes Horse for many years. Originally, he came to America from Italy as a 16-year-old and plied his tailoring trade in the Portland area. This was a very high-end store and was very specialized and most folks that I know could not afford to shop there. I remember Gramps got some pretty good bonuses at the end of the year that he would dutifully share with the family. This store was a haberdashery institution in Portland that had a lot of loyal customers. I was shocked to just come across this post and see my Grandfather, bigger than life in the photos.

  9. I remember it well. It was very unique and quite expensive. They carried beautiful coats from Germany ( Geiger). Have you already written about Charles F. Berg? That was the best store in Portland in the 60’s, I think.

  10. Hi-I just found an invitation to the opening of the Broadway Clothes Horse Store. It says this is the third store in a chain — the other two being #1 in Milwaukee and #2 “Bybee in Westmoreland”. There are photos on the back of the invitation –and in one of the photos there looks like there is a BAR in the store. A woman is sitting on a bar-stool and there is a bar tender waiting on her..with a wall of sports coats on the side. Another photo shows a woman sitting in the store, in front of a fire place. A salesman is showing her a sports jacket, there is a coffee table in front of her with a telephone on it. Shopping must have been real different back then. The graphic on this invite is dated 1954.

    1. Thanks for the info – I never knew they were that wide of a chain. And I fully get behind adding bartenders to clothes shopping – I’d probably do it more.

  11. I remember in the late ’50s and early ’60s my parents would take us to Portland (from Astoria) to school clothes shop; we stayed at the Congress Hotel, just up from Meier & Frank. We would shop at M&F, Lipman Wolfe, Charles F. Berg and there was another clothing store right in the same area but can’t remember the name. My dad would go up the street (Broadway I think) and shop at the Gay Blade. I remember it being on the corner (catty-corner from the M&F parking lot). I think it was owned by Marv Horenstein.
    I ordered all my blouses (with my name embroidered on the collar—we called them “name blouses”) from Bergs. Then sometime in the ’60s the first shopping center opened–it was called The Lloyd Center!! We stopped shopping downtown and started shopping at the new mall!!

  12. Ok, so here is the scoop: The family of ownership was the Horenstein family, specifically Earl Horenstein. He had two stores; Portland and Palm Springs. Earl was a great guy and would do anything he could for you. He did believe in the extravagant. Three sons, a beautiful wife, a home to die for and the best family parties imaginable. I miss each and every one them. His boys are Brad, Rick, and Doug. And I miss those days.

    1. Thank you for that beautiful post. I was very young when I would go over to my Uncles house and play with my cousins. PJ

  13. I remember Max Hornstien. He had the “Cloths Horse, in Moreland, of course”. Max taught me how to tie a half Windsor knot. I still have a black sweater, cable knit, side vents, with a nice high collar, that Max sold to me when it was on sale for $19.95. That was around 1961 or ’62. Max was a real gentleman and I sure miss his great sense of humor.

    I also still have a red silk ascot and a few silk squares that I bought at the Broadway store. Shades of Hef.

    Portland and especially Broadway just does not have the “feel” that the old haberdashers brought.

    Best regards,

    Dan Harvey

  14. The Clothes Horse was a great store. Our family friend Lu Belshee from The Dalles
    was a true clothes horse and loved the store…she was my introduction to the store. Remember “Earl’s Pearls”?

    Robert Hampton San Diego

  15. Great thread! I am a vintage seller here in Portland and has more than one piece including a very retro green leather dress! Oh to get my hands on that stuff!

  16. A little family history …

    Our Great Grandfather Herman Horenstein started a clothes store “Herman’s Mens Store” in Portland in the 30’s. His son (my Grandfather) David along with David’s sons Marvin and Irwin (Itz) started the Gay Blade. The Blade (as it eventually became) had eleven stores from Longview down to Eugene. I had the pleasure growing up working in several of the stores … and I mean working!

    Herman’s son Earl started the Clothes Horse on Broadway in the early-60’s, You all have nailed it on the head in terms of opulence and grace. Both men and women were treated like royalty. Along with all your great memories, anyone remember “Horn’s Corn?” A predecessor to “Poppycock” and other popcorn/nut treats. So many good memories visiting – like someone said “on our best behavior.” The Portland scene of the 70’s caught up with Uncle Earl as mass merchandisers moved downtown and to the ‘burbs. Subsequently, the Portland store was closed and Earl’s son Doug moved with him to open a Palm Springs store.

    Earl’s brother Max – a hell of a nice guy and real philosopher – opened the Clothes Horse in Moreland. Tiny little shop, but the same style and customer attention as downtown. Another victim of the malls, sadly that shop closed after a few years. Max subsequently worked for the Blade as warehouse and distribution manager until his retirement. Max used to offer proverbs and life teachings to me and my cousins while working in the basement of the store on Broadway.

    So there my friends is a brief history of my family’s business.

  17. I just picked up a box (like what a shirt would have been sent home in) with the Gay Blade logo and a paper sack inside with three stores listed: Portland, Eugene, and Vancouver. I just thought the logo was cute, but this post was fun to read to get a bit of history on it! 🙂

  18. Hi I just recently acquired a pair of cufflinks in a box from the clothes horse, they are a some type of Agate stone stamped sterling and has ser. Pat2472958. Does anyone know where I can get more info?

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