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PORTLAND-Dr. Martens AirWair USA, which keeps its U.S. headquarters and distribution center here, is opening its first corporate-owned store in the U.S. next week in Barry Menashe’s 616 SW Broadway building in Downtown Portland. The company says the 2,000-sf space is meant more as a marketing strategy than a revenue generator, and will not compete with retailers like Nordstrom that carry its hip line of thick-soled shoes.

Parent company R Griggs Group Ltd. of Britain already has two stores in England and two stores in France. The U.S. division says it thought about opening it first U.S. store in a larger market, but decided to drop the first fledgling close to the nest. Eventually, the company wants storefronts in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.<PThe Portland store is less than a block from Nordstrom and the city's busiest public square, and near Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch, two other retailers focused on the same under 30 demographic. National Retail Manager Mickey Chandler says the Portland store will carry the most diverse collection of Dr. Martens in the US. "It will also serve as somewhat of a lab for us to first-hand spot hot products, emerging trends and other information highly useful to our retail partners," he adds.

Dr. Martens is among the hippest shoe manufacturers in the world. Bands such as The Who, The Sex Pistols, Depeche Mode and Nirvana have adopted the brand as their footwear of choice, making the brand popular worldwide. The company’s corporate-owned stores are being designed with the company’s connection with musicians in mind.

Designed by Portland’s DisplayWorks, the Portland store will include an Artist Lounge/”Chill” space for customers and touring artists visiting Portland. Defined by chain mesh curtains and graced with a vintage, cherry red Chesterfield leather sofa, the lounge will play host to rock stars and shoppers and the occasional artist performance.

Unique to Portland, the sound system will intrigue passers by with crowd chants and mike check sounds when bands aren’t performing, and a 12×10′ wall will house a collage of local music show posters.

The brand’s trademark colors, yellow and black, will be used as a chief design feature throughout the store. The finish on the store will include “a natural palette of wood, raw steel, and exposed infrastructure elements, quietly conveying the brand’s work-wear roots and sturdy craftsmanship,” according to the company.

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