above and beyond
Shelley Prael had shopped for home decor at Aurora Mills, which is housed in an 1890s-era grain mill in Aurora,
Ore., and filled with salvaged goods that
range from antique bathtubs to beveled
glass. So when Pendleton Woolen Mills,
a fine wool fabrics producer and retailer
where Prael is visual manager, decided to
open a new concept store in the Portland
International Airport (PDX), she knew that
Aurora Mills Architectural Salvage would
be just the place to source reclaimed lumber
and upcycled elements for the store’s
Prael nominated Aurora Mills Architectural Salvage for an Above & Beyond Award
for the outstanding service the company
provided under tight timelines during the
store’s construction, with the added challenges of working in the high-security airport environment.
“It was stressful,” Prael says. “Our dead-
lines were crazy, but the company was
great to work with, and there was not one
All of the recycled elements that fill
Pendleton Woolen Mills’ PDX store are
sourced from the Pacific Northwest.
Aurora Mills found old barn wood, cleaned
and finished it, and pieced together planks
to fit the exact dimensions needed for
shelving. Aurora Mills Manager Seth
Byrnes says this was a labor-intensive
task. “When farmers got lumber to build
a barn, the lumber came in variable sizes.
Some may be two-by-five-and-a-half, not
two-by-six.” Once Aurora Mills trans-
formed the lumber from its original dirty
and dusty state, Prael was able to admire
the beautiful, barn character revealed in
each handpicked piece, she says.
Other locally sourced fixtures came from
Pendleton Woolen Mills’ original work-
ing mills. The company has operated two
plants in the Northwest since the 1800s—
a blanket mill in Pendleton, Ore., has been
running for 100 years, while a clothing
mill in Washougal, Wash., has operated
for 85 years. Prael and her crew retrieved
old parts, gears, and workbenches from
the two mills, which were integrated into
tables, shelves, and decor to visually tell
the history of Pendleton Woolen Mills.
Prael praised Aurora Mills’ willingness
to listen to her ideas and brainstorm with
her. When the company didn’t have exactly
what she had in mind, Aurora Mills’ staff
came up with alternatives, she says. An
example is a clever shirt display fashioned from rolling parts bins Aurora Mills
had located in an old Studebaker garage.
The bins originally held spark plugs. Now
they’re filled with crisp, folded men’s shirts.
Prael noted that managing store con-
struction at PDX was a “logistical night-
mare,” noting that store openings usually
require shipments to be dropped off within
the period of about a week. In contrast, air-
port security regulations at PDX required
that deliveries occur during a two-hour
window, and no commercial trucks were
allowed. If shipments needed to come in
the back door, every box had to be opened.
To facilitate the process, Aurora Mills
offered to deliver in a privately owned mini-
van. Its staff met TSA’s approval criteria,
and Aurora Mills flexed its schedules to be
on time for PDX appointments.
Pendleton Woolen Mills opened in
August 2012 in the main concourse at PDX.
Prael says that the concept has been well
received and that the company is consider-
ing opening another store.
—By Helen Wolt
Aurora Mills reclaimed and upcycled elements
for PDX Pendleton Woolen Mills store
Aurora Mills Architectural Salvage sourced a variety of recycled elements from the
Pacific Northwest for Pendleton Woolen Mill’s store in the Portland International Airport.