Central Oregonians are a collection of dreamers, doers, storytellers and innovators who have all chosen this beautiful place as home. The result is a thriving community of makers who help weave the cultural fabric of this unique area. To showcase the depth of creativity that flows here, Visit Central Oregon created the “Central Oregon Makers” campaign. The hope is that the content inspires others to seek out and support the people who bring the Central Oregon region to life. See videos of each of these Central Oregon Makers here.
Together, The Broomsmen and Local Plastic are one team built on a sustainable mission to support the environment. While people who recycle have good intentions, Philip Torchio, founder of The Broomsmen said that many people don’t know the materials that can be recycled, and a lot of previously “recycled” material actually ends up in landfills. “Our bottom line here is really trying to get the maximum use out of the material,” Tom Kochtitzky, designer for Local Plastic, said.
Recycling gurus at The Broomsmen take plastics from events such as weddings, tops of six-packs from canned beers, and even plastics from small businesses and individuals. efforts from The Broomsmen and Local Plastic result in sustainable, delightful products such as handbags and planter pots. The repurposing of recycled materials adds to the solution that many people don’t think twice about, what happens after we recycle?
Geoff Babb is a former fire ecologist with the Bureau of Land Management and a longtime outdoor enthusiast. When the Bend resident was hit with a near-fatal stroke in 2005, the experience left Babb in a wheelchair—but he refused to let that keep him from enjoying the outdoors.
Babb soon realized that an inflexible wheelchair was perhaps his biggest obstacle—so he helped design an all-terrain wheelchair that could stand up to the elements.
The AdvenChair, as he called it, was born. Now in its second iteration, the off-road wheelchair is crafted with mountain bike parts, large wheels, and adjustable handlebars—all of which allow users to roll over rocks and roots while enjoying the great outdoors. The AdvenChair’s third wheel can easily be detached, as well, making it easy to use in everyday life and away from the trail.
Years ago, Jeff Akers saw a video of a Texas-based coffee company roasting their beans over a wood fire—and the creative idea changed the course of his career.
Most coffee beans are dropped into drums heated by petroleum, but Akers realized he could roast small batches over a wood fire, imbuing each with a moister, gentler heat that allows the coffee to retain more of its flavor. Inspired, he built a coffee roaster in his backyard—and before long, Akers was giving away his beans as birthday presents and Christmas gifts.
Eventually, in 2017, Bohemian Roastery took root in Bend. Today, Akers runs the business alongside his wife, Shelley, and their sons. The family roasts responsibly sourced beans in one part of a converted trailer—and sells coffee out of the other half at farmers markets throughout the region. As Shelley puts it: “It’s a flavor of love.”
Spider City Brewing opened its doors in late 2018, instantly becoming one of one of the few women-owned and -operated breweries in the country.
Just as remarkable, though, is Spider City’s eclectic output—which typically includes roughly 30 outstanding beers and hard seltzers on tap at any given time. These brews include a handful of IPAs (this IS Central Oregon, after all), as well as plenty of less-common offerings, such as a citrus-tinged grisette, Polish-style lager, and salty gose crafted with lime zest.
As co-founder Melanie Betti explains, the region’s beer-curious clientele is curious to try new recipes and open to a variety of styles—giving her the freedom to experiment with ales and lagers inspired by her travels around the world. Try the balanced brews for yourself at one of two Spider City tasting rooms in Bend.
An Oregon native born in Newport, Hunter Noack is the founder of the In a Landscape: Classical Music in the Wild series. From Noack’s invention, the world itself becomes a concert hall. A nine-foot Steinway piano is placed in grand landscapes of State Parks, ranches, greenspaces, farms and historical sites, especially in Central Oregon. Concertgoers wear wireless headphones that connect to microphones inside the piano, so if they are sitting hundreds of feet away, the experience is still vibrant and luminous against the natural backdrop. “To be part of an experience that is meaningful is something that I’m proud of,” Noack said.
Erica Porch, owner and founder of Derive Jewelry, uses inspiration from natural surroundings to reflect the designs of her work. “I pick up a lot of inspiration from the landscape, the colors, everything from the sunset, the ocean. There’s inspiration everywhere when it comes to [the] creative process and making something with your hands,” she said. From her collections, find gems and stones such as pearls and turquoise contrasted with bases such as gold fill or sterling silver. The delicate, natural and finite aesthetic of the jewelry reflects in the quality, and the handmade aspect only makes Porch’s pieces more special. Find Derive Jewelry on the website, or in Central Oregon shops including Hello Sunshine in the Old Mill, Clementine Urban Mercantile in downtown Bend, Willow Wild in Redmond and many more.
The conception of Sisters Meat and Smokehouse begins with Jeff and Kay Johnson who own the butchery and eatery in Sisters. With great appreciation for quality meats, and finding a way to provide this sustainably and locally to the community, they knew just the person to go to.
Brody Waller, used to give the Johnsons gift baskets of his smoked meat recipes. This gave them the idea to open Sisters Meat and Smokehouse and hire Waller as managing partner and master smoker. Brody’s brother, Wade Waller is head meat cutter, and many of the recipes, techniques and seasonings found at the smokehouse were developed by their father, Steve Waller. “A lot of family works here. A lot of people that we hire from the outside become family,” Wade Waller said. The smokehouse is a place to get expertly cut meats such as Porterhouse steak, chicken, smokehouse jerky and many more. Or, stop by at lunch for a delicious, handmade French dip sandwich.
Wade Waller said. The smokehouse is a place to get expertly cut meats such as Porterhouse steak, chicken, smokehouse jerky and many more. Or, stop by at lunch for a delicious, handmade French dip sandwich.
At Santiam Snolab, customers design the skis or snowboards of their dreams. The process begins with choosing your ski performance design. Then, the expert team at Santiam Snolab brings the dream to life after gathering your themes and ideas.
After that, the collaborative effort is handed to the customer who goes into the shop, ready to work—with guidance from professionals—so the experience is even more memorable than ordering custom gear. “Anyone that actually goes through this process, whether they do it alone or whether they do it with their family, they never think the same about what they strap to their feet to go play in the snow again,” Hank Gulledge, department manager for Santiam Snolab, said. Although the staff at the Snolab is there to help, gather material and take over the process when expertise is needed, you truly get to be the “maker” here.
According to Jeff Perin, the owner of The Fly Fisher’s Place in Sisters, Central Oregon boasts some of the best trout-fishing waters in the world.
He would know better than most; Perin has been fly fishing all over the world but, even after decades of tying flies around the globe, still prefers stepping into the Metolius River or launching a boat on East Lake within Newberry Crater.
It’s a passion that inspired Perin to open The Fly Fisher’s Place in 1986; today, he’s the longest-running fly shop owner in Oregon—and shares his love of fly fishing widely. His shop offers 20 different guided trips on waters across Central Oregon, up-to-date fishing reports, and a wide range of high-quality equipment—including trout flies, saltwater flies, rods, float tubes, and more.
Kelli Palmer is a basket weaver in Warm Springs. She learned to make baskets at a local culture camp when she was a kid; after sharing her newfound passion with her, Palmer’s mother revealed she also loved to make baskets. Palmer uses inspiration from the changing seasons to make the corn husk baskets, “I notice I change as the seasons change,” she said. Reflections of the natural surroundings in Warm Springs, and the alternating colors of the seasons can be found in the baskets Palmer creates. “I just see this as a way that people can preserve part of their culture and be able to pass it down,” she said.
More inspiring stories, adventures, and tips & tricks for planning and experiencing the best Central Oregon has to offer.
Made in Central Oregon
Whether souvenir shopping is on the agenda during a trip to Central Oregon, or the holiday gift giving season is once again creeping up, there is no shortage of shopping here in the high desert. While it has become easier than ever to shop from behind a screen, there’s a special feeling that comes with shopping local—whether it's for art, local specialty foods or experiences that showcase the best of Central Oregon.
Get Holiday-Ready with Handmade, Local Gifts
When it comes to holiday shopping, it’s the thought that counts—the thought behind each and every gift that you carefully select for your friends and family, that is. And there’s no better way to shop thoughtfully than to shop locally-made. Here in Central Oregon, we’re surrounded by a wealth of beauty, natural resources and creativity, a dynamic combination that’s fostered a thriving community of artisans and makers. It’s a cinch to cross gift-giving off your to-do list thanks to this inspiring array of small businesses. Let’s go shopping!
Best Shopping in Bend and Redmond, Oregon
Shopping in Central Oregon has evolved over time, thanks to an influx of outdoor enthusiasts, organic farmers, antique purveyors and entrepreneurs of all kinds moving in, and subsequently sharing their products with the community. This mixed bag of motivated individuals creates a marketplace full of locally sourced, handcrafted items that can’t be found anywhere else. In addition to small, local businesses, Central Oregon’s growth in population in recent years has garnered the attention of some larger retailers, who have opened up shop in Bend and Redmond. Shopping in Bend, Oregon and likewise, shopping in Redmond, Oregon, provides visitors with a look inside our local industries, while simultaneously providing opportunities to purchase from well known retailers. It’s also worth mentioning that shopping in Central Oregon and throughout the state is tax-free, offering shoppers a built-in excuse to buy whatever catches their eye.