GRESHAM, Ore. -- A Gresham business owner says aggressive panhandling has been scaring away his customers.
William Masters owns Mt. Hood Treasures in the Halsey Square Crossing shopping center. He said panhandlers are sleeping in the grass and begging in the parking lot, asking his customers for change, cigarettes and gas money.
He said the beggars are so pushy, they have even approached customers in the parking lot before they get out of their cars.
Every month I do worse, every month my business is going downhill, said Masters.
To make matters worse, Masters said he s been sprayed with mace, spit on and yelled at by the panhandlers.
They walk up and down the sidewalks bothering people for money, cigarettes, gas money, then they have people that walk up to the people's cars, beg them for money, it's just a non-stop thing, he said.
When KGW went to the store s location, we found homeless panhandlers laying in the grass, sitting on sidewalks and hanging out in the parking lot. We spoke to people who came to shop or visit other retailers. They said they ve come to expect it.
You just walk by after, because you get used to it, one shopper said.
But as a business owner and as a customer, you should not have to expect it. That s according to a person who begs all day. I don't want a job, not here said Cameron Donovan.
Donovan said he begs to get his money too, and these aggressive amateurs are giving legitimate panhandlers a bad name. You sit on the side of the street, put out your sign, you smile at people you take care of yourself and people will give you money, Donovan said.
Donovan lives in the woods and said that's his choice. He calls his panhandling flying a sign and he does pretty well at it. KGW met with him after he'd bought coffee at Starbucks. He said begging for money is pretty easy, but like anything, once you start to annoy people by being too aggressive, things will immediately change.
If you're lying on the side of the street, you're not going to make money. You got a needle in your arm, you're not going to make money. You ve got to clean yourself up and respect yourself enough to ask for help, he said.
Masters has asked his landlord, security company and police for help. So far nothing. He also posted a sign asking people not to give to the panhandlers, but said so far, that doesn't seem to be working, either.