The Light Bulb Lady

Portland, Oregon

“Sunlan Lighting—how may we light up your life?” To overhear Kay Newell, the Light Bulb Lady, answer the phone is to understand the very filament of her business.

In 1989, Newell opened the Sunlan Lighting, Inc. warehouse in a pair of turn-of-the-century two-story structures that once housed Stewart’s Variety Store and a meat market. The street was drugged, barred, boarded up, and desolate. The building itself had an old-growth-timber heart but not much else after three decades of vacancy, a fire, a leaking roof, and floorboards destroyed from the axe work of a butcher killing chickens years before. Fifteen years later, the neighborhood buzzes with circular saws priming new storefronts, and crackles with espresso energy rather than crack violence. And if you need to buy a light bulb, there is still no better place to go.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

—J. David Santen

J. David Santen is a freelance writer living in Portland, Oregon.

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