A holiday shopping event focused on Portland small businesses returns this week after a pandemic pause.

This Friday and Saturday, shoppers can get 10% discounts at dozens of local businesses through the Small Shops Big Hearts campaign — and win raffle prizes to boot.

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“After what’s been an incredible nearly two years of strife, our small businesses are coming back to say, ‘here we are’,” said organizer Sarah Shaoul.

For small business owner Anielis Raas, starting her own shop in the pandemic was even harder than expected. She says the Small Shop Big Hearts event brings a sense of community.

For small business owner Anielis Raas, starting her own shop in the pandemic was even harder than expected. She says the Small Shop Big Hearts event brings a sense of community.

Kate Davidson / OPB

The Small Shops Big Hearts shopping event is a reincarnation of Little Boxes, which promoted local alternatives to the Black Friday frenzy at big box stores. Every year, people could small-shop their way through neighborhoods, enjoying discounts and treats.

“It was like a bunch of little parties all over town,” Shaoul said. “And people would just pop from party to party to party.”

Last year, the pandemic put that party on ice.

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Shaoul, who used to run a brick-and-mortar retail shop, has launched several initiatives to support struggling businesses during the pandemic. When the coronavirus first hit, her project PDXSOS sent out a “distress signal” urging people to buy gift certificates from local shops.

That SOS morphed into a permanent directory of hundreds of small businesses as well as an advocacy and support group for independent retailers.

Shaoul took over Little Boxes from Built Oregon and the boutique Betsy & Iya.

The remake, the Small Shops Big Hearts Holiday Shopping Event, has partnered with the local payment app Kuto, which is designed to save small businesses money on credit card transactions. Customers link the app to their bank account, similar to Venmo, and Kuto charges merchants a flat 1.5% fee.

Shoppers will be entered into a raffle when they visit stores and make purchases. The dozens of prizes range from hotel stays to a megalodon tooth.

For Anielis Raas, a jewelry maker and the owner of Moonatic in Northeast Portland, the shopping event promises a sense of togetherness.

Raas opened her shop one year ago, in the middle of the pandemic. She runs the store by herself.

“It’s a journey that can be lonely,” she said. “And being able to connect with other business owners and to do events that are citywide, it just enhances that sense of community.”

The Small Shops Big Hearts event runs Friday and Saturday, Nov. 26 and 27.

THANKS TO OUR SPONSOR:
THANKS TO OUR SPONSOR:

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