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City offers parking incentives to draw holiday shoppers downtown

Free parking at SmartPark garages on Sundays in December aims to draw more holiday shoppers downtown.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Downtown Portland businesses are twinkling with anticipation of holiday shoppers.

“It's the most wonderful time of the year in downtown Portland,” Retail Program Director for the Portland Business Alliance Lisa Frisch said. “We have cultural events, we have the best dining in the region. We have shops you're only going to find downtown. If you want the true holiday experience come visit us this holiday season.

However, some potential customers are not feeling the joy in downtown congestion. A handful of people told KGW Tuesday the number one factor keeping them from shopping downtown is traffic and parking.

“I would not choose downtown. It's fun to see the festivities afterward, but with the traffic and everything else I'm like no, no thank you. I'd rather enjoy my couch time and order online,” Rowena Macalanda said.

“I would much rather be at home on the internet and order,” Melissa Longstreth said.

To try to ease those concerns the city is offering free SmartPark garage parking all day on the three Sundays in December leading up to Christmas. December 8, 15, and 22.

Shoppers can take advantage of the deal between noon and 5 p.m. on those days. Just show your parking ticket at the PDX Pop-Up Shop in Pioneer Place or at Boys Fort to receive a $5 parking voucher to cover the day’s cost of parking in SmartPark.

Retails shops know they are competing with online shopping. When you come downtown the Portland Business Alliance wants you to make an event of it. Go see a show, check out one of the many restaurants, and support local businesses. It's also a chance to get that gift you might not find anywhere else.

Eric Murfitt with Mercantile Portland is optimistic about a strong customer base built in 45 years downtown. They're stocking up on high end holiday fashion.

‘We get to decorate the store and there's all the fun energy of all the things happening downtown and the fun of just the holiday shopping and people coming down here,” he said.

The high number of homeless can be another deterrent for holiday shoppers. Two years ago, Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle raised concerns about safety downtown at their flagship store.

He talked of a move, but the store is still there. And so will be the plentiful decorations to greet those who do venture into the city.

“There's something about the lights and seeing the Christmas tree go up. You just feel more festive,” holiday shopper Ray Maestas said.

Events that can bring business will also be plentiful:

The 35th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony

  • More than 25,000 Portlanders will join in a joyful sing-along to illuminate the city’s centerpiece. Friday, Nov. 29 at 5:30 p.m.

The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition

  • Caroling groups head to the heart of downtown Friday, Dec. 13 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The 29th Annual Tuba Christmas Concert

  • Downtown will be pulsing to the sound of 300 big brass tubas on Saturday, Dec. 14 at 1:30 p.m.

Santa visits:

  • Pioneer Place: Santa arrives on Thursday, Nov. 14, and dons his hipster threads on Dec. 7,8, and 19.
  • Nordstrom: Santa stops by from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Dec. 13-15 and Dec. 20-24

Menorah Lighting:

  • Join the 36th Annual Festival of Lights celebration at Director Park
  • Celebrate the first night of Chanukah on Sunday, Dec. 22 from 4 to 6 p.m.
  • Menorah Lightings occur each night through Monday, Dec. 30. Most lighting occur at 5:30 p.m.

For more information on holiday events and shopping in downtown visit the Portland Business Alliance website.

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