Tender Loving Empire has become one of my favorite records labels and retail shops since my move to Portland.
It was started by Jared and Brianne Mees in 2006 and just recently the fabulous duo have upgraded their space from the small shop on Lovejoy to a much bigger space on NW 10th Ave. (near Powell’s!).
Had they only opened a store, they might still be here. If they’d just opened a record label, they might not be here. If it was just a screen printing operation, they might be out of business.
“We’ve worked way too much at a bunch of different things to make it work,” Brianne says.
Painted on the steps leading up to the second floor where, eventually, there will be an office, are some words by one of Tender Loving Empire’s bands, Idaho’s Finn Riggins: “Keep This Town Alive.”
A mural above the entrance includes the words, “You are part of this place.”
In conversation, Brianne and Jared come back to one word time and again: community. Their business backs it up. There are 10 murals in the new store — all by local artists. More work from those artists can be found along the back wall, where there’s now room for a gallery, a benefit of more space.
To this day my favorite concert experience in Portland was the Jared Mees concert where the band played in a tiny garage in the middle of January. It was rainy and cold, but they threw up some tents and space heaters, cooked up some hot dogs on a grill. There was maybe 60 or 70 of us crammed into a tiny space singing songs and dancing and just having a time.
[Photo of Brianne Mees courtesy of TLE]