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Portland small business owners urge people to shop local this holiday season

The city of Portland has launched a website that makes it easier to find small businesses by letting people search for them by category.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Ruthie Crawford, owner of jewelry lines Harlow Jewelry and Ruthie and Olive, says her business is down 60% this year.

She said the holiday shopping is what can help push a small business into next year.

"When you're purchasing holiday gifts or whatever, you're not just purchasing a gift for your loved one. You're actually helping keep food on the table and helping a small business survive," Crawford said. 

Through her businesses, she not only support herself but others as well. 

For every necklace purchased through Ruthie and Olive, money to purchase three meals is donated to the Oregon Food Bank. A percentage of sales through her Harlow Jewelry line goes to a different organization each month as well. 

Crawford sells her designs in stores and boutiques, but with the pandemic it's forced her to make changes throughout 2020 to keep business coming in.

"I think we're all having to be really innovative and just come up with new ideas to reach people," Crawford said, "because we're competing against large companies that have big advertising budgets that can afford to reach the masses. Where, us as small businesses don't have that ability normally.

This past July, Matan Steinfeld purchased Bull in China PDX, a barware company with a Northwest focus that caters to the bar owner or home bartender.

"When you're buying from a small local business, it's not just them," Steinfeld said. 

Bull in China PDX utilizes local small business owners to make the shop's different products through businesses that include jewelers, glass blowing studios, a local wood worker or even a t-shirt company.

"So like every time you're buying a t-shirt from me, you're supporting a local t-shirt shop and you're supporting a local business too."

Using sites like Amazon is a quick and easy way to shop online, but Ashley Cintas, owner of CityShoppe.com, said her e-commerce website connects shoppers with locally owned small businesses to make it easier to support those businesses. 

"It's local in the sense that it's bringing local virtual. So local isn't always within your own city, but who's to say that you can't shop locally in New York." Cintas said. "Being able to still support local, regardless of where your physically located, is our biggest mission."

Cintas has started a change.org petition to encourage shoppers to consider shopping small before considering shopping at a big box store or e-commerce giant like Amazon.

"That's what we're trying to promote. How can we make it as convenient as possible because what we live in right now is what kind of big boxes like Amazon created, is this instant gratification of shipping next day," Cintas said.

The city of Portland launched a website, shopsmallpdx.com, which has a growing list of small businesses around Portland that you can look up by category.