THE HOLIDAYS ARE DIVISIVE, and I'm not just referring to family get-togethers. There are those who fully embrace the shopping season, taking great pleasure in selecting gifts for the lucky people on their lists, and there are those who begrudge our society for inflicting the pressure to financially overextend ourselves, to fret about shipping deadlines, and to perpetuate the cycle of consumption and waste. If you are reading this column, chances are you fall somewhere in the middle—a consumer, but a careful one, interested in supporting local business and manufacture, bypassing the mall's mindless convenience in favor of the little guys.

There are legions of craft and handmade events (see a couple of our picks for this weekend in My, What A Busy Week!, at left), but this year a group of the city's hippest boutiques are also teaming up for the "East Meets West Passport Event," complete with a VIP kick-off party on Friday night, November 27. If you want to play, stop in on Friday to any of the participating stores. On the Westside: Radish Underground (414 SW 10th), Narcisse (1015 SW Washington), Frances May (1013 SW Washington), Flora (1130 SW Alder), and Covet (429 SW 10th). And on the Eastside: Second Nature (811 E Burnside, Ste 119), Rock 'n' Rose (616 E Burnside), Redux (811 E Burnside, Ste 110), Lille Boutique (1007 E Burnside), and Frank James (729 E Burnside, Ste 103). Pick up a "Shop Local Passport," and get it stamped by at least six of the stores for free admission to the party, where there'll be prize drawings from the participating businesses as well as the Ace Hotel, Cacao, Canoe, Clyde Common, Entrust salon, Grendel's café, Kir wine bar, and Le Pigeon.

And of course, there will be deals. All 10 stores are marking down throughout the weekend, with 15 percent off storewide on Saturday and Sunday—although as usual the early birds score, with buy-one-get-one-half-off on Friday before noon and 20 percent off from noon to 8 pm.

Last year's snowpocalypse dealt a seething blow to local businesses during what should have been their busiest weeks (one owner of a long-running boutique recently declared that he would simply shut down if the weather repeated itself this season), so it's little wonder they're doing their part to drum up enthusiasm—which, considering their tasteful selections, is deserved even without discounts and parties. So check it out, and seriously, fuck the mall. (VIP Party, The Cleaners at the Ace Hotel, 1022 SW Stark, Fri Nov 27, 8-11 pm, free w/stamped passport or $5)