PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland Saturday Market is struggling to survive.
The Portland Saturday Market is a local cultural institution known around the world. Director Howie Bierbaum said the market was open for about 20% of the past year and lost 80-90% of its profits, forcing organizers to make dramatic cuts to staffing and marketing. Now it’s barely hanging on.
“There is a possibility the market would go away if we didn’t receive funds. It’s that urgent — it’s that black and white when you look at it on paper,” said Bierbaum. “The future is on the line.”
Bierbaum said the market represents approximately 240 local vendors and businesses. He hopes the market can play a part in revitalizing downtown Portland as the pandemic loosens its grip on the community.
“I want to stress how important it is to create a renaissance revival around downtown business. Downtown has been hit pretty hard between the protests and COVID — it looks pretty battered and beaten up,” he said. “We need to support our institutions and what makes Portland Portland.”
The Portland Saturday Market is scheduled to reopen April 17 for its 48th season. Vendors will pay 15% more this year to have a space at the market. How much each vendor pays depends on the size of their space and location within the market. And the market has less space to offer vendors this year due to social distancing restrictions.
Dagny Haug has been a vendor at the market since 2008 with his business Bonus Pants. Haug said if the market is unable to recover, “it would be a loss not only for the artistic community but for the Portland vibe in general.”
“It’s just a different way to shop, a different way to support makers. That’s what Saturday Market is all about,” Haug said. “It would be tragic to lose such a unique organization.”
A GoFundMe campaign is raising money to help the market recover.