Small Business Saturday a big deal for Portland shops damaged in blast

Sall Business Saturday big for Portland shops after explosion

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Compared to Black Friday's big, bustling crowds, Small Business Saturday may seem subtle.

Portland’s shop owners say, don't be fooled.

“Going into the fourth quarter, this is the time when you make it,” said Patricia Fielder, president of the Nob Hill Neighborhood Association and co-owner of Child’s Play Toys.

Of course, this year in the Nob Hill neighborhood, Saturday’s efforts take on a whole new meaning.

“I can’t express how sad I feel for the owners of those shops,” said Fielder.

She was talking about Portland Bagelworks, Dosha Salon Spa and other spaces destroyed or damaged in October’s natural gas explosion at Northwest 23rd Avenue and Glisan Street.

More than a month later, the scars of that disaster are still visible.

But Saturday brought new hope as some of Portland's most powerful came out to help with the healing process, including Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici.

“We wanted to show support and show everybody that these businesses are still open and really in need of everyone to come in and see that they're still here,” she said.

Saturday morning, she and Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish shopped in several shops along 23rd Avenue, including Tender Loving Empire.

“When you shop local, 70 cents on every dollar stays home,” said Fish. “And you may go on the internet and you may get a slightly better price, but where's that money going?”

Down the street at The Hip Hound, Mayor Charlie Hales doubled down on the city's commitment to helping 23rd Avenue recover.

“We've done that with grants,” he said. “We've done that with having a full-time incident manager here. We're trying to figure out all the logistics of rebuilding while people are still trying to shop.”

Customers who came specifically for Small Business Saturday were grateful.

“There's something about going somewhere and finding something specifically for a person versus like getting it on Amazon or whatever,” said Jess Kirsch. “It just feels more genuine.”

Fielder saw Saturday’s turnout as a good sign.

“Personally I feel really positive about this holiday season,” she said.

Small Business Saturday stretched down 23rd Avenue and across the city, largely thanks to Portland’s Little Boxes Campaign.

Organizers set up raffles at local shops to draw customers in over the holiday weekend.

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