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.


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
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