THIS IS THE WEEK of all weeks for retail. The collective need to shop reaches its zenith with the sometimes all too aptly named Black Friday. There are riots, stampedes, hand-to-hand combat over toys and toasters, and lots and lots of bargains. But fuck that. The big box scene may be full of hazard and carnage, but in lucky little Portland there's a whole alternative universe created by the huge, thriving, and super-talented community of independent designers, makers, and curators. You'll still find plenty of bargains, but you won't need a mouth guard to get to them.
Below we've done our best to list as many of the sale events, trunk shows, and pop-ups as we can find, but something that no Portland shopper should miss is this year's great crop of PDX Pop-Up Shops. Supported by a network of agencies—including the Portland Business Alliance, Portland Development Commission, and the City of Portland—a small collection of temporary shops fill in empty storefronts with locally focused merchandise in the heart of the downtown retail corridor each holiday season. This year's pop-ups are perhaps the strongest team yet, including the bold, graphic, laser-cut apparel and home goods at Emit (535 SW 6th); natural, local health and beauty products paired with rustic vintage décor at Wolf's Apothecary (902 SW Morrison); the return of Boys' Fort's dizzyingly appealing, clever array of boyishly themed products (614 SW 11th); and the luxurious, gorgeous alpaca goods at the Enchanted Alpaca (902 SW Morrison). Now, to the calendar!
BLACK FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 23
Little Boxes: A citywide effort that includes an astonishing 170 local retailers. Drop in to any of these "Little Boxes" today or tomorrow and earn yourself one raffle ticket a visit, plus more with purchases, to win things like iPads and gift certificates. You can also get your Little Boxes map stamped for every one that you visit, which kicks in a discount. Fri-Sat, visit littleboxespdx.com for the complete list of participants, rules, and details
Open for Business II: The return of one of last year's greatest hits of holiday shopping events, Open for Business II is a weekend-long collaboration between Nice Work and OLO Fragrance. With merch including home goods, jewelry, and bags, plus wrapping paper and cards, this could easily wind up as your one-stop. The list of vendors is, as usual, impeccable, including Better Late Than Never, Btwn Wind + Water, Draught Dry Goods, and Liam Drain. The Cleaners, 403 SW 10th, Fri-Sun, 11 am-6 pm
Bridge & Burn Pop-Up and Preview: Portland-designed outerwear and clothing company Bridge & Burn is warming up their soon-to-be permanent retail space (due to open the first week in December), offering dibs on the most comprehensive collection of Bridge goodies available in the city and a glimpse at what the store will look like. 1122 SW Morrison, Fri-Sat 11 am-7 pm, Sun noon-5 pm
The Store: Concept retailer Stand Up Comedy turns the biggest shopping day of the year on its head (as expected) by screening Frederick Wiseman's 1983 "visual essay about Neiman Marcus," The Store, on loop. Their announcement of the event was accompanied by the comment, "Naked capitalism is very close to what we've always heard about the nature of pure evil—it's banal." Stand Up Comedy, 811 E Burnside, approximate start times noon, 2 pm, 4 pm
Wacky Holiday Photo Booth: Crafty Wonderland's huge sale at the Convention Center is coming right up in December, but they're not waiting until then to campaign for your attention. Today they host their annual Tinderbox Photobooth event, in which attendees are encouraged to wear their ugliest holiday attire (or borrow from the selection on hand), select a corny background, and smile for the camera. You can buy the prints on the spot, order merch with the image (mugs, anyone?), or download them later yourself. Crafty Wonderland, 808 SW 10th, noon-4 pm
Carley Kahn: Local textile designer Carley Kahn is kicking off an online holiday sample sale of her 100 percent silk scarves at 70 percent off retail, so you can engage in the Blackness without having to put your rain boots on. carleykahn.com, through Dec 24
Mellow Black Friday: Eastside boutique Citrine invites shoppers to take it easy, doling out Bailey's and coffee along with 20 percent off storewide. Citrine, 2937 E Burnside, 11 am-6 pm
Collage Clearance Sale: Whether you have a crafter on the gift list or decorating duties on your hands, Collage's huge clearance sale has a year's worth of merchandise at 50-75 percent off. As they put it, "We don't mess around." Collage, 1639 NE Alberta, Fri 10 am-4 pm, Sat 10 am-7 pm
Frances May: For one day only, Frances May offers 20 percent off their entire selection, including new merch from favorites like Wood Wood and Rachel Comey. Frances May, 1013 SW Washington, Fri in-store, online from Fri midnight-Sat midnight with coupon code thanks2012 on francesmay.com
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 24
Herb & Seed Sale: Here's an outlier for those who prefer to stay in the bunker on Black Friday. Hawthorne boutique Mag-Big hosts a two-day sale of goodies from Daggawalla, from gardening seeds for veggies/herbs/flowers/tobacco, herbal tinctures, remedies, teas, and smoking mixes. Groovy. Mag-Big, 3279 SE Hawthorne, Sat-Sun 11 am-5 pm