Businesses band together to help those affected by explosion

Businesses near blast site come together

PORTLAND, Ore. -- John Whisler was running late Wednesday morning, and he couldn’t be more thankful.

“This is where I would have been sitting right here with this box of glass shards,” he said, pointing to his desk in a top-floor office at Kitchen Kaboodle.

Whisler is the co-owner, and Thursday, he and his staff spent the day sweeping up shattered glass and cleaning it out of products, on display near windows.

Their goal was to be open by 1 p.m.

He wished his neighbors, some of more than 30 years, had that option.

“A lot of the shops around there are single owner shops,” he said. “Small businesses that don't have any other source of income for the people who work there. they won't be getting hours and for the business won't be getting any income until they can get this cleaned up. So we're very, very fortunate. No complaints. We're very lucky."

Employees had the same sentiment over at Uptown Eyecare & Optical.

It sits six blocks away, across Burnside and next to Zupan's, but pressure from the explosion still managed to shatter the shop’s front window.

“All of a sudden I hear this boom or shake or something, and then the glass just shattered,” said Gary Lee Ross-Hall, an optician at the shop.

Staff there were uninjured but shaken.

Thursday, they received a showing of support when owners of Hawthorne Vision Center in Southeast Portland dropped off a cake.

Owner, Dr. Rebecca Uhlig, said she just wanted shops near the blast site to know they’re not alone.

“What do you do as a small business owner? You don't have a big, giant company to take care of you and make it better so you just have to do the best you can, so we just thought it would be really nice to come by, bring a little gift of cake and say ‘Gosh we're sorry this happened to you,’” she said.

Kelli O’Connor wants to help, too, so she decided Thursday to turn her shop “All for Paws” into a donation hub.

“We'd like to be a resource for people for their dogs and cats and toiletries and stuff like that,” she said. “We love our community and the small mom and pop shops up and down the street, so anything we can do to help them. We know they'd do it for us.”


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