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Campaign launches to support Portland's small businesses Thanksgiving weekend

'Small Shops Big Hearts' is a campaign to expand what's known as Small Business Saturday. Thanks to a locally-made phone app, you can win stuff while you shop

PORTLAND, Oregon — As you start your holiday shopping, save some dollars for local, small businesses. Some businesses have dealt with a lot over the past two years: the city's protests and bad reputation, a pandemic that forced people to stay home, now a staffing shortage and a supply chain crisis.

This Friday Nov. 26 and Saturday Nov. 27 in Portland is what's called Small Shops Big Hearts. It's a take on Small Business Saturday. About 100 restaurants, personal services and retailers will give discounts and prizes for shopping small.

The stores are arranged by city-quadrant and neighborhood, so you can hit up a few businesses while you're out. It starts with a payment app designed here in Portland called Kuto. Small businesses love it because it's 70% cheaper to use than paying the high fees they're charged when shoppers use a credit card.

Sarah Shaoul, a longtime small business owner herself, is the organizer of Small Shops Big Hearts. 

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"When you use the Kuto app, you walk in and the app knows you're in the business and it gives you a raffle entry right away, and if you make a purchase through Kuto you get double the raffle entries," Shaoul said. "It's really important to shop at small businesses but it's also really important for the community. Our kids walk by these businesses on their way to school, these are eyes on the street and they create our community, we should want to see them thrive."

Here's what's up for grabs in the raffle prizes: Four hotel stay packages in Portland and in Washington, an iPad, restaurant gift certificates and experiences, gift baskets worth hundreds, private shopping parties and gift cards to local businesses.

One of those KGW visited is called Herbivore, on Southeast Stark Street and 12th Avenue near Revolution Hall. They have gifts from cookbooks and kitchen gadgets, to wallets and socks, pet treats, toys, puzzles and games for everyone. Everything is vegan-made and environmentally conscious. Herbivore has been open 15 years, and went from seven employees, down to two now. The city has changed a lot but these owners love their products and are so good at helping customers find something unique. 

"There's a lot that goes behind what someone is looking for when looking for a wallet, where do you carry it, big small, lots of cards, all that stuff," said owner Michelle Schwegman. "I love everything in this store, it's why I picked it. And I love helping people get what they need and solve their problem."

Alshiref Eskander owns Amity, a retail store that opened this summer in downtown Portland, across from the Target on Southwest Morrison Street. 29 local makers, mainly women and minorities, sell their art and jewelry, candles and clothes here. 

"Downtown is becoming very open now, it's not as we remember it 6-8 months ago," Eskander said. "Please give it another chance, there's a lot of great places to go from restaurants to local places to enjoy."

See the whole list of participating stores at SmallShops-BigHearts.com

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