I've shopped here about four times. Two times, they were out of stock on a computer cable I needed and a printer cartridge. I did find the paper, computer memory, and network router. Twice it was hard to find somebody that knew what I was talking about. BUT, when I discovered Staples just down the road, I switched. Just better prices by 10-20%, snappier help.
PROS: Accept checks
CONS: Unknowledgeable service, out of stock on items, prices uncompetitive
Trying to bring myself up to date on the latest contraptions for vacuuming my floors, the guy (Bob?) at Stark's spent WAY more time with me than he needed to. The old Hoover I have is over 20 years old, and my goodness how times have changed--and the prices! What I needed for my house was outside of my price range, but Bob asked me what was wrong with my current vacuum. After an insightful verbal diagnostic, he recommended a new drive belt and the latest bacteriostatic bags. He was able to tell what model I had just with my description of it, and he was actually right. I love it when stores recognize the value of expertise as it relates to customer service. Truly a store out of the 50's when customer satisfaction was the key to success.
PROS: Had every part I'd ever need, no sales pressure, very knowledgeable
My Ford Aerostar van had a broken spark plug, but Dufresne's did not find that during the diagnostic. They gave me an estimate of $1200 (after the $105 diagnostic). I ended up taking the van to a friend's mechanic who immediately found the problem, replaced the spark plug and fan belt, and charged me $120. I ended up on Dufresne's mailing list, which I now can't get off of.
PROS: Friendly, caring
CONS: Diagnostics protocols flawed
Nestled in the nether regions of the Valley River Inn overlooking the Willamette River is Sweetwater's Restaurant and Lounge. A satisfying dinner can be had here, even with some fancy chef flair. Although the restaurant plays at being more upscale than it is, the food is good and prices are more down home. Bands play in the lounge on Fridays & Saturdays, and have been carefully selected for high quality and danceability. There's a nice-sized dancefloor, stage and lights, so a true nightclub feeling is invoked. The hotel caters aggressively to conventioners and other large groups, so the crowd stampedes in around 9:30 and leaves all together around 11:30, so that is the prime people watching/dancing window. Service can be lackadaisical depending on the particular wait staff. Bar menu is served late.
PROS: Non-smoking, nice decor, high quality dance bands
CONS: Slow service, spendy drinks.
The red naugahyde booths and swivel chairs date this joint back to the 70's, and most of it looks like it was intentionally remodeled that way for whatever reason. Two large rooms--one for the bar and one for the dancefloor and stage make this a spacious hang out. A lot of professional drinkers spend the evening here, but the weekends can get hoppin' if the band is good, which can be an issue. Good, generous food selections on the reasonably-priced menu (check out the club sandwich), stiff drinks, and no weekend cover charge make this a good value. Bands to watch for there are the Kid Lopez Band, Jesse Samsel, Rose City Kings, Aaron Black.
PROS: Convenient parking, big dancefloor
CONS: Heavy drinkers, smoking, inconsistent band quality.
This is the classic blues and rock & roll roadhouse, and has been even back in the days when the only thing between I-205 and this place was the Vancouver community airport. Now the entire 2 miles from 205 to the Cascade Bar is packed with everything from GI Joe's, Fred Meyer, Safeway, and every fast food joint in existence. The Cascade has usually been a blues bar since the late 80's, and lately has re-committed to that genre, albeit with a distinct rock edge to the band bookings. Most of Portland's best blues bands perform there on weekends, and blues jams show up every now and again on Wed. nights. Strong drinks, excellent service, and generous portions for the menu items make it a good value. Food is served all evening on Fri & Sat. nights. See www.cascadebarandgrill.com for music schedule.
PROS: Food late, good bands, giant parking lot, 20 min. from NE Portland
CONS: Pretty smokey during winter months.
With live music 7 nights a week and never a cover charge, this is the classic music venue with a roadhouse feel. Although it USED to be called the Candlelight Room back in the 80's and early 90's, owner Joe Shore remodeled the joint and renamed it the Candlelight Cafe & Bar. The music is some of the best blues, soul and R&B the city offers--and you can't beat the price. Drinks are stiff, and the service is snappy, even when it packs out Fridays and Saturdays. It's pretty much a full house regardless of the day of week, with all age groups and ethnicities represented. An excellent people-watching hang, especially after 10 PM.
PROS: Great blues.
CONS: Closeby parking is scarce on the weekend.