A pandemic year: Portland businesses got creative to survive

Coronavirus

Neighborhood 'feels quiet, just very different'

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It has never been easy to be a small business owner but this past year — The Year of the Pandemic — pushed almost everyone to the brink. Many longtime downtown Portland businesses were forced to permanently close their doors.

Matthew Boyes of Cielo Home Design in Northwest Portland, March 9, 2021 (KOIN)

Some establishments didn’t make it through the first 2 months of the pandemic when stores and restaurants were forced to close. Pivoting business models became necessary, as when restaurants added or expanded their takeout business in order to survive.

Established retailers like Oblation Papers and Press and Cielo Home Design, neighbors on NW 12th, had to get creative in order to survive.

“When people were afraid to have people in their homes we started developing garden design,” said Matthew Boyes of Cielo Home Design.

Alicia Fox-Smith of Oblation Papers and Press said everything feels different.

Alicia Fox-Smith of Oblation Papers and Press in Northwest Portland, March 9, 2021 (KOIN)

“So many businesses within blocks of us have closed and it feel like different neighborhood,” she told KOIN 6 News. “It really does. It feels quiet, just very different.”

The protests and violence in the city added even more pain to these businesses. Many businesses in the Pearl District had their windows broken just within the past 2 weeks. Every business owner who spoke with KOIN 6 News on Tuesday wants to feel optimistic about the future but they are extremely frustrated with the ongoing vandalism that keeps costing them money — and with the city’s lack of response to the ongoing threat.

There are positive signs. COVID rates are falling. More business restrictions are being lifted. The restaurant and shopping scene downtown is slowly coming back.

Business owners said they best thing residents can do to help is simply make a point to visit your favorite downtown shop or restaurant. Support your local business as the pandemic battle continues.

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