'TIS THE SEASON when shopping opportunities abound, and if you parti-cipate at all in the consumerist madness that is Black Friday, it's a more timely act than ever to put those dollars into the local economy. We're not talking pity donations; despite discouraging economic outlooks across the globe, Portland's retail environment is thriving. Of course, if you're anti-consumerist altogether or your family only ever exchanges hugs and affirmations, great for you—get out of here. The rest of us have shopping to do.
Holiday booth fairs are great; every church, school, and community center hosts one this time of year, and they're a perfect way to discover local obscurities that will delight your out-of-town relatives. But holiday pop-ups are evolving into cohesively merchandised boutique experiences, sparing you the discomfort of browsing past the expectant eyes of someone who has spent the last six hours standing behind a booth.
"There's a frantic pace to it," says Heather Sielaff of the typical craft-fair experience, which she and partner Alison Hawley are seeking to negate with their weekend-long enterprise, Open for Business, debuting this week. Both women have retail backgrounds (you may recognize Hawley as one half of the team that brought the now-closed Frank James boutique to town), and they wanted to capture what they enjoy about having a shop without having to actually have a shop. So they rounded up an impressive roster of their favorite makers and retailers—all independent, and 95 percent local—and went into business.
Post-Frank James, Hawley's been busy branding and buying for her new venture, a home-goods online store called Nice Work (thisisnicework.com), set to launch in the early days of 2012. In effect, Open for Business will act as a preview of the brand, for which Hawley has accumulated a bevy of clever, appealing pieces. Sielaff, meanwhile, is the woman behind cult-favorite fragrance line OLO, and the two of them have cemented their partnership with a collaborative air freshener called Deux. Debuting in limited supply this week, Deux began as a poop joke (original name: Number Two), but wound up an awesome, slightly jackass gift idea, with a crisp pine and cedar scent that is both a reference to Hawley's fervent Pine-Sol use and, as Sielaff says, "a great neutralizer."
In addition to their own product, Hawley and Sielaff have assembled some of the greatest hits in Portland's creative community, plus the occasional outlier like Kansas City stationers Hammerpress. The result is a mix of furnishings and accessories from the familiar (AK Vintage, Frances May, Hazel Cox) mixed with new or less-prevalent names, like new-to-the-scene furniture-maker Eric Trine—no booths necessary. Open for Business, The Cleaners at the Ace Hotel, 403 SW 10th, Fri Nov 25-Sun Nov 27, 11 am-6 pm, openforbusinesspdx.com
Duchess Clothier is kicking out its Black Friday jams with a huge sample sale, promising "ridiculously" low prices plus 10 percent off custom appointments. Friday, Nov 25, Duchess Clothier, 2505 SE 11th, Ste 102, noon-7 pm
Little Boxes is a citywide collaboration between nearly 100 independent shops. Score discounts at participating locations when you show same-day receipts from any of the other shops, plus pick up raffle tickets at each stop, and keep those Black Friday dollars local. Friday, Nov 25, 10 am-8 pm, littleboxespdx.com
Sword + Fern is hosting a customer appreciation weekend, serving up tea and other treats alongside a storewide 25 percent discount. In addition, anyone who shops between Friday and December 24 will receive a 20 percent off coupon good anytime in 2012. Sword + Fern, 811 E Burnside, Ste 114
The Blackbox Stores (Tanner Goods, Blackbird, Dunderdon, Isaac Hers, The Woodlands pop-up, and Solestruck) are anticipating your food coma/hangover with 20–30 percent discounts and holiday drinks at happy hour. Friday, Nov 25, Blackbox, SW 13th & Burnside, 4–7 pm
Black Friday is upon us, and just about every store in town will be serving up some kind of bargain. A couple favorites are Frances May's 20 percent discount on all regularly priced merchandise (1013 SW Washington) and Una's 25 percent clothing and select accessory sale running now through Sunday (2802 SE Ankeny).