Owner closing downtown jewelry store due to homeless

A popular downtown Portland jeweler is closing its doors and the owner is pinning the blame on the homeless.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A popular downtown Portland jeweler is closing its doors and the owner is pinning the blame on the homeless.

“It’s really hard,” said Judith Arnell of Judith Arnell Jewelers. “It’s really sad.”

Arnell says if it is not the constant panhandling by the homeless, she and her customers are frightened by the urination or defecation outside the store.

“It’s not unusual,” she said. “We find it often in the morning, but during business hours it’s strange.”

The owner of nearby Packouz Jewelers is not at all surprised to hear his competitor is packing up and moving out. His employees face the same challenges as Arnell and her workers.

“We have to move past the touchy-feely thing that’s occurring here and make some decisions,” said Rick Mahler. “Have a backbone on some of these decisions.”

All of this comes just days after Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle wrote an opinion piece in The Oregonian. He said problems with the homeless are forcing him to think about moving the Sorel headquarters out of the downtown core.

More: Columbia CEO concerned about safety of downtown employees

“We hope we will see some action because Columbia isn’t the only business that we hear this from,” said Sandi McDonough of the Portland Business Alliance.

But not all businesses are forced to close like Judith Arnell Jewelers.

“I just hope we can do something about the homeless,” said Arnell.  “Make it safe for people.”

A spokesman for Mayor Ted Wheeler says the city is increasing its recruitment of police in hopes of getting boots on the ground to help with livability and cleanliness concerns, among other things. 

© 2017 KGW-TV


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