Small Shops Big Hearts, Portland’s small business holiday promotion, is starting early this year – Here is Oregon

A holiday shopping event focused on supporting small businesses in Portland returns earlier this year and will continue for longer.

Beginning Thursday, shoppers who visit local businesses as part of the Small Shops Big Hearts campaign can win prizes. This year more than 100 independent retailers and pop-up shops are participating and prizes include vacations, dining experiences, iPads and more.

The event, in its second year, is a reincarnation of local Portland’s Little Boxes campaign, which promoted local alternatives to the Black Friday madness at big department stores.

But unlike previous years, this year’s event runs for three weeks until December 11th.

“What we found is that people are no longer waiting until Black Friday to start shopping,” said organizer Sarah Shaoul, who formerly ran Portland brick-and-mortar retail stores Retread Threads and Black Wagon.

Since then, Shaoul has launched several initiatives to support struggling businesses during the pandemic. When the coronavirus first emerged, her project, PDXSOS, sent out a “distress signal,” urging people to buy local gift cards and do their local Christmas shopping online to save Portland businesses.

She founded Small Shops Big Hearts in 2020 to encourage shoppers to spend their money more wisely during the season buying Christmas gifts and to support small businesses at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Shaoul said while Black Friday traditionally signaled the start of the holiday shopping season in the past, more retailers are now introducing the sales events in hopes of making the most of consumers’ wallets.

“I think one of the big benefits of this trend is that small businesses need people to shop there year-round,” she said, adding that most independent retailers in the Portland area do their sales during the holiday season.

Those wishing to enter the raffle will need to download the Kuto app — a locally developed rewards program and gift card tracker — or print out a game board to track their purchases and whereabouts.

A shopper will receive a Sweepstakes entry each time they check into a participating small business. According to Shaoul, one purchase earns two raffle entries in addition to a check-in raffle. Purchases made through the Kuto app earn double entries, four per purchase. After three purchases, the participation in the competition doubles. After six they triple and after nine they quadruple.

Visit the Small Shops Big Hearts website for a full list of prizes and a map of participating stores. Winners will be announced on December 22nd.

–Kristine de Leon, [email protected], 503-221-8506


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