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Justin “Scrappers” Morrison at North

[The following is a guest editorial by Sarah Shaoul, a longtime Portland small business owner and the founder of PDXSOS (SAVE OUR SHOPS).—eds]

As Portlanders we adore our small businesses.

Our neighborhoods are filled with a diverse and inspiring mix of stores, restaurants, and art houses. These shops are where local makers—including those from the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ community—introduce their products to market. Our small businesses are run and staffed by those who are proud to prepare food, teach wellness classes, and sell their lovingly curated goods.

In short, these businesses are the secret sauce that makes Portland the vibrant and flourishing city we love. And right now these same small businesses are in peril.

Rather than spending our time tallying up and grieving over the small shops and restaurants that are closing every day, we can take action. Go to PDXSOS.com where you can learn how we can work together to SAVE OUR SHOPS while fortifying the main streets that keep our streets safe, clean, and provide a safe pathway for our kids to walk to school.

Here are just a few ways you can help:

1) TAKE THE PORTLAND PLEDGE: Pledge to buy all your holiday gifts from local shops and makers. Just as we acknowledge the importance of voting in this election, remember that we vote every day when we pull out our wallets. Go out of your way to support the small businesses that make up the fabric of our city.

2) WRITE A #PDXLOVELETTER: Your voice is more powerful than you might think. Do you have a favorite shop or special memory of an experience provided by a small business? Do you miss visiting your favorite bar, salon, or bookshop? Let the world know! Share your story on your platforms of choice and use the hashtag #PDXLoveLetter so others can amplify your love.

3) REPEAT: Did you have a great experience ordering takeout or score a flashy new outfit from your favorite clothing shop? Your story might inspire others. Use the hashtag #PDXLoveLetter so others can find your message, too.

4) SUPPORT BIPOC AND LGBTQIA BUSINESSES: Looking for an opportunity to lift BIPOC and LGBTQIA voices? There are so many wonderful small businesses in our community that could use your support right now. Don’t put it off another day. Have you treated yourself to a delicious takeout dinner? Snap a pic and share the tip. Have you purchased an article of clothing online? Show it off in a selfie and encourage others to do the same.

5) DISCOVER NEW FAVORITES: There's no better time to get out of our comfort zones and explore new shops that we may have otherwise ignored. Check out PDXSOS.com where an ever-evolving directory highlights Portland’s unique small businesses, including many Black, Indigenous, people of color, and women-owned businesses. Let them know they matter to you.

6) AMPLIFY: Follow your favorite small businesses on social media and repost their messages. Even if the news they’re sharing may be irrelevant to you, it may be relevant to someone in your circle.

7) BUY A GIFT CARD: Gift cards are the new hugs, and a lifeline for your local shops and restaurants. What better way to comfort your friends and family while they’re cooped up? A great place to start is the list of participating businesses at PDXSOS.com.

8) TAKEOUT NIGHT: Your favorite neighborhood haunt might still be open for take-out. Help them weather the storm, safely and deliciously, by ordering out once a week. They appreciate your support, and you get a night off from doing dishes.

9) TAKE AN ONLINE CLASS: Many local gyms and yoga studios have taken their programs online, and boy, could you use some stress relief!

10) WRITE A REVIEW: Review sites aren’t just for complaining. Good reviews really do make a difference. Isn’t it about time to sing the praises of your favorite karaoke joint?

11) SEND SOMEONE YOU LOVE A "SAVE OUR SHOPS" CARE PACKAGE: Many of us are struggling. We need each other now more than ever. Shower your friends and family in love, and watch that love spill over into the community.

12) SPREAD THE WORD: Help send this SOS far and wide. If you know a business that should be included at PDXSOS.com, let us know. We're still building this platform and evolving in real time to meet the needs of our small business community. Your involvement today helps this urgent movement grow and will shape the way Portland looks tomorrow.

13) FOLLOW @PDXSOS ON INSTAGRAM: This is where you can learn so much more about our community of small businesses.

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We’re all looking forward to that day when we can shed our masks, return to the bustling cafes we love, and hug our shopkeepers! But now is the time to be intentional about how we spend our money to ensure the places you love are still going to be there when that day comes. If you’re shopping from home and need suggestions of places to support, head over to PDXSOS.com where there's a list of over 600 businesses that could use some love—today and always!


PDXSOS: Distress Signal from PDXSOS on Vimeo.


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As founder of PDXSOS and cofounder of Bricks Need Mortar, Sarah Shaoul has spent 28 years owning and operating small businesses in Portland. Bricks Need Mortar provides advocacy, visibility, guidance, support and connection to brick and mortar businesses. Bricks Need Mortar works with BBPDX and Oregon Small Business United to lobby for sensible and equitable policy for our small businesses.