Added: Claire Kimbrel - Date: 10.08.2021 22:06 - Views: 49901 - Clicks: 501
OPB is tracking the recovery of downtown as the city comes out of the pandemic. Last week, we looked at the question of how people are measuring the challenges facing downtown. We examined one downtown street where many business owners are asking that question — and everyone seems to be arriving at a different conclusion. At the start of the pandemic sales plummeted but have slowly been improving as weekend visitors are returning. It was the first night of racial justice protests in downtown Portland. Park Avenue Market has both your typical convenience store items and a large array of Middle Eastern products.
Jabbary, who is from Iraq, keeps the shelves stocked with henna dye, fresh baklava and Turkish coffee. His store is one of three located on the intersection of Southwest Clay and Park. The usual stream of tourists and downtown workers disappeared at the start of the pandemic. Racial justice protesters regularly marched through the area. People continue to break store windows, tag storefronts with graffiti, and steal merchandise.
That night in May was the first of Want to Portland down with someone would be four break-ins to hit the market in Heroes American Cafe in Portland, June 16, The business, owned by John Jackson, was a month old when someone shot into the store during a protest march against police brutality.
The customer base consists of mainly residents from the neighborhood. And we never have this kind of problem [in] downtown Portland. In a survey of downtown business owners and managers conducted at the end of last year by the Portland Business Alliancea little over a quarter said they planned to relocate out of downtown in the next two years. At the time, business owners cited the pandemic as their top concern. After two decades as a downtown business owner, Jabbary says he has little interest in sticking around Want to Portland down with someone a third.
After he locks up the store at night, he will sometimes sit in his car and watch over the storefront until morning. You are the leader, the officer. You have all the tools. He is not the only business owner on the corner Want to Portland down with someone feels left high and dry.
He opened in September, his fourth Oregon location. The walls are lined with glossy poster-sized photos of teachers, firefighters and veterans. Jackson, a Black veteran, said he intentionally did not put up pictures of police in his Portland location. But he is proudly pro-law enforcement. During a mass uprising against police brutality, he thinks this support made him a target. In October, on a night when protesters marched down the South Park Blocks and toppled two statues, someone shot into his store. The business had been open for less than one month. He grew frustrated that someone could so publicly shoot into his store with so little ability.
Being African-American, if I pulled the gun out and started shooting, I probably would be dead right now. But the shooting brought him a bizarre silver lining: New Want to Portland down with someone. The police started stopping by to show their support. Conservative media outlets picked up the story as did a Russian TV station.
The BBC profiled him. Customers started showing up from across the city to get a burger. His customer base has become more typical since then — mainly residents from the neighborhood. As the weather warms and more people are vaccinated, more of them are starting to stop by.
Guerrero sells her wares at the farmers market by Portland State University, and says that was one of her steadiest years for sales. Joe Yang moved to Portland from China two and a half years ago for a simple reason. He takes coffee very seriously and he heard that Portland did too.
For a year, it did. Then sales plummeted with the pandemic. Weekend visitors are returning. Portland State University will open up for in-person classes this fall. In a year unlike any other for downtown Portland, there was one spot of normalcy a little further south: the farmers market by Portland State University.
The outdoor market, located toward the southern end of the South Park Blocks, is home to about 50 or so small businesses.
Hot Mama Salsa has been one of them for about five years. Owner Nikki Guerrero said the market, which she attends every Saturday with the sole exception of Christmas weekend, was critical for getting word out about her fresh salsa, hot sauces, and chili oils. When the pandemic hit, she shared the concern of every other business owner in the city that business would dry up. But the sales cliff never came.
Sure, tourists disappeared and Portlanders were less willing to drive from other neighborhoods and explore. But there was also a host of people suddenly finding themselves doing more home-cooking than ever before and looking for ingredients. In a flip of the script, Guerrero said was one of her steadiest years for sales.
Wambui Machua, owner of Spice of Africa, said the downtown farmers market was a strange bright spot in what was otherwise a dismal year for her businesses. One month later, the pandemic would slow sales to a trickle. Machua said she had little doubt both she and the market were staying downtown.
Who the hell knows what is going to happen anymore? How do you measure the challenge facing downtown? And what does recovery look like? Because from street corners to office towers, everyone who interacts with downtown Portland has their own way to gauge its health.
Protecting fragile, priceless works of art is a full-time responsibility: even if a pandemic pops up and spoils your plans. Streaming Now. OPB's First Look newsletter up to get important news and culture from around the Northwest, delivered to your inbox six days a week. Related Stories How do you measure the challenge facing downtown?
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