PORTLAND, Ore. -- Portland small business owners are definitely sick of this weather. They're losing thousands of dollars between having to stay closed and customers not leaving home.
A slushy mess on Portland's North Mississippi Avenue is the best Sarah Shaoul has seen it look in weeks. The owner of children's toy store Black Wagon was forced to close for a day and tell employees not to come in, for their safety and to save on paychecks. Now Shaoul is hoping for some increased foot traffic after four rounds of storms that have cost her money.
"My employees are getting smaller paychecks, if you close for a day that means we're bringing in less revenue and that means our business is going to have to be more careful about the orders we bring in from our vendors," Shaoul explained.
On one of her slow days, she had an idea, "If you support us during this time we'll give you 10 percent off a gift certificate." She took that idea to other businesses on Mississippi who started doing it too. It rose to 30 businesses.
"Actually we're over 80 now, yeah," Shaoul said. The movement has its own posters and a pretty long, informal name "Portland Supports Small Business Community Thru Winter Weather."
Small businesses have been hit hard by this weather. Shaoul says sometimes people forget their importance. "We should really value the businesses that are making donations to your schools and who are cleaning up the graffiti in your neighborhood and who are shoveling the sidewalks."
And cooking your food. Chef Johnny Nunn, owner of comtemporary French restaurant Verdigris, had to close for two days because of the storm, on other days his staff couldn't make it in. "I was down here a lot with one server and me as dishwasher and prep guy and everything and it was good, we wanted to stay open for the neighborhood people," Nunn said.
Restaurants have razor thin profits anyway, so this storm has been brutal. Many places have been offering all-day happy hours, three-course meals for $30, or a free drink when you buy an entree. Nunn is discounting gift certificates by 10 percent as well.
"If there's a place you like that you've been meaning to get to, or you haven't been in there yet, if there's one you're a regular at but you didn't go because you were stuck inside, maybe bundle up and trudge through the snow," Nunn said. "It might make a difference for a lot of businesses."
If you'd like to learn more about which businesses are offering 10 percent of gift certificates through the month of January, click here.