Chrome vending machine is attempt to “rethink retail”

At the Hawthorne Asylum food cart pod.
(Photo: Chrome Industries)

Portland based Chrome Industries, a brand known for their iconic messenger backs and backpacks, has installed a mask vending machine in southeast Portland.

The move is part of what company President Steve McCallion says is an attempt to maintain a connection to the community as Covid-19 restrictions have crimped their usual way of doing business.

Chrome calls their stores “Hubs” as a testament to how important in-person gatherings are to their operation. Chrome’s Portland Hub has long been a popular hang-out for professional bike couriers and in 2018 we shared how the company has also helped the local fixed-gear freestyle riding scene.

Chrome opened a Hub in Portland in 2012 and moved their entire company headquarter here in 2017.

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With all retail moved online, Chrome sees vending machines as one way to stitch the brand back into the urban fabric. Their first machine in Portland is installed at the Hawthorne Asylum food cart pod (1080 SE Madison St).

“Like many retailers, in March we closed our retail locations, and have been working on a number of different projects designed to rethink retail while aligning with the Chrome brand and our dedication to support urban centers,” McCallion said in a statement. “The vending machine provides essential products in a location where people want to gather, and to our team the project is a symbol of community.”

Currently stocked with face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, Chrome plans to expand vending machine offerings to include small bags, shirts, and other products in the future.

Non-food vending machines of interest to bicycle lovers aren’t new to Portland. There’s one filled with fun cycling merch from River City Bicycles inside the Modera Belmont apartments and you can buy an assortment of tubes and other parts from vending machines at the Lloyd Cycle Station and Green Zebra Grocery on North Lombard.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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Tom
Tom
2 years ago

Given recent events, maybe Chrome could enhance their PPE product line by adding some cycle specific bulletproof vests and helmets. Something lightweight and breathable for riding Greenways.

Mark Colenz
Mark Colenz
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom

How about a stab-proof vest for riding through squatter camps on the 205 path?

Jason
Jason
2 years ago

Do they make one for Mountain Man™ beards?

LK
LK
2 years ago

I bought some masks from this vending machine just this weekend! It was a cool surprise to see it at the Hawthorne Asylum.

Brian
Brian
2 years ago
Reply to  LK

I still haven’t been to the HA. How is it?

dan
dan
2 years ago
Reply to  Brian

Maybe 10-15 carts, one of which is a dedicated beer/wine cart. What’s not to like? Great on dry days, maybe less appealing in the winter — I don’t recall if they have a tent / awning / roofed area.

LK
LK
2 years ago
Reply to  Brian

I thought it was really cool, though it was a little more crowded than I would prefer during the plague. The variety in carts is great, and there are indeed covered seating areas for when the weather turns sour.

CaptainKarma
2 years ago

Good catch, Jonathon.
Maybe they could add tubes.

GlowBoy
GlowBoy
2 years ago

Uh, so how much is the stuff in this machine? On a site that often promotes $3000 bikes, this information is conspicuously absent.

Mark Colenz
Mark Colenz
2 years ago

I have two Chrome masks and they’re unfortunately made of not-very-breathable material, nylon fabric a little lighter than what you’d find on one of their bags. Easily my least favorite mask purchase, they need to re-think their design.