PORTLAND, Ore. — From local shops and restaurants to trolley tours, Portland businesses took a hit Saturday. Dueling protests and the warnings from the city that came with it were enough to keep shoppers and tourists out of downtown.
"I hate to see us, as a people, be afraid to come live our lives in our own town," said Carla Kaminski, a vendor at Portland's Saturday Market.
Every weekend from March to Christmas Eve, you'll find Kaminski surrounded by catnip and quirky cat toys she makes by hand at her "Spoiled Cat" booth inside the Saturday Market.
"My husband and I have been doing this for 20 years," Kaminski told KGW.
Kaminski hasn't missed a weekend working at the market in about 15 years. So the far-right and left-wing demonstrators who were protesting blocks away weren't going to stop her Saturday.
"To show that we can do this anyway, we have to. We have to go out and do our best things anyway," she said. "And I always feel like if something bad is happening or something bad is happening in an area, you shine light on it, and you put activity there and then the bad things will go away."
A few protesters passed though the market on their way to and from the protests, which were happening farther south on the waterfront, but they mostly stayed away from the weekend hot spot on Saturday, according to multiple vendors.
"Well, it was tense. You could tell that people were tense about things that were going on in the media, about staying out of downtown because of the event that was coming," Kaminski said.
The lack of customers took a bite out of business.
"It was really down. ... Yesterday was our slowest day of the year," she said.
Just across the aisle at the market, Nina Podpolucha meticulously hand beads beautiful jewelry, but she didn’t make much of a dent in her inventory Saturday, because shoppers were scarce.
"It was dead down here. We had very few people actually shopping," she said.
For many vendors like Podpolucha, selling goods at the Saturday Market is a full-time job. Without customers to sell to Saturday, they see a major drop in pay.
"The crowd was sparse, and people were afraid that something bad was going to happen. So, they didn't come down to support any of the businesses," Podpolucha said.
The Saturday Market organization lost thousands of dollars in revenue Saturday, according to Howie Bierbaum, the market's executive director.
"These are small businesses. No one is getting rich here. They're handcrafted artisans. We're a relatively small non-profit and several thousand dollars hurts us," Bierbaum said.
About a third of the market's vendors stayed away Saturday. Painter Amy Tatala-Beck was one of them. She was back at the market Sunday but said with all the hype around the protest and because of safety concerns from police, she and her husband decided to stay home.
"The police seemed to be very concerned about safety and restriction at the waterfront, and they weren't designating what parts of the waterfront would be safe or active and what wasn't. So, all of the waterfront was restricted," Tatala-Beck said. "And we decided that we felt safe, but we just knew that business was not going to be good down here."
Not far down Naito Parkway, Gray Line of Portland's pink trolleys were back on the road Sunday. Owner David Beagle canceled routes Saturday over concerns of safety for his employees, the guests, and the vehicles.
"When there's a roving protest, you can't run on any kind of schedule and you can't really run on a consistent route," Beagle said. "So, it was wisest to shut down and we also were advised by the police department."
At least four employees were called off from the job and Beagle estimates losses on the day were between $5,000 and $6,000. But he's glad he kept his crew and trollies safe.
"The trolleys chose not to run and that was the best decision," he said.
Gray Line and the market vendors weren't alone. Businesses like Moonstruck Chocolate on Alder Street, the downtown Starbucks, and the Nike Store all shuttered their doors Saturday for what turned out to be a relatively peaceful protest.
"But it could have turned the other way," Bierbaum said. "[I] just wish everything was peaceful and organized and permitted, so it was predictable for everyone involved, including the citizens of Portland."