Life in Portland Blog

Community Business Spotlight: The Herbal Apothecary

Catching Up With Our Friends at The Herbal Apothecary

In this series, Urban Nest sits down with local PDX business owners to talk shop about what makes their store or business fit so well with Portland. Learn about new neighborhoods, new businesses, PDX community and more!

A Holistic Hub in the Alberta Arts District

If you're curious what the world of herbalism may have to offer toward improving your quality of life, The Herbal Apothecary is the perfect place to start. This friendly, community-centered shop on 2714 NE Alberta is fully stocked with dried herbs and herbal extracts, and offers classes and consultations to help newcomers ease themselves into the world of holistic healing. Read on for our interview with owner Christopher Smaka.

UN: How long have you been in business?

Vital Ways has been teaching Holistic Health for 9 years, and has been an herb store, venue, and education center for the past 5 years.

 UN: What is unique about your business?

Our business is part retail, part school, and part clinic. Most people find us by walking into our Herb Store and thinking it’s just an herb retail establishment, but our most important commodity is health information and we’re much more likely to give you evidence-based holistic health guidance than to sell you an herb or supplement. Our goal is to help people get to a place in their health and knowledge where they no longer need to take supplements or go to an herb store, instead, they can grow and pick their own medicine and know how to help themselves, their families, and loved ones.

UN: For you, what is most important about the customer experience?

Listening to and understanding the customer’s story is essential for us to understand how to best help someone achieve their health goals.

UN: How would you describe the community that surrounds your business?

Each day I feel blessed that my business is part of the Alberta Arts district.  The combination of artists, small businesses, great food, lots of visitors from afar, awesome local residents, and the amazing walkability of our area, facilitates it being an inspiring and vibrant community. 

UN: What do you think makes your business a great fit for Portland?

Our business fits very well into the health conscious and health awareness of Portlanders and its visitors, especially as it matches Portlanders desire to be healthy skeptics of mainstream and alternative health care claims.  We strive to ensure that we fulfill the community’s desire to obtain trustworthy, safe and effective evidence based health information.

UN: What is your favorite thing about Portland?

My favorite thing about Portland is the proximity of amazing natural places, some as close as 30 minutes away, to the best of urban culture, such as unsurpassed food, incredible music, and excellent bookstores.

UN: What part of town do you live in, and what do you love about it most?

I live in NE, and think that with its combination of a small town feel, and diverse and friendly  neighbors and residents, its a wonderful place to live.

 Christopher Smaka

Christopher Smaka




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Learn more about Vital Ways Herbal Apothecary on their website.