Who says big box stores have all the best Black Friday deals? On Thanksgiving weekend, sidestep the masses — and the sales tax — in favor of a fun and decidedly Portland tradition: Little Boxes. Started in 2011 by Portlanders Betsy Cross and Will Cervarich, the wife-and-husband team behind local jeweler betsy & iya, this inventive program unites boutiques and storefronts for all sorts of merry-making and giveaways.
“We want shopping locally owned stores to feel more like leisure sport and less like an adrenaline-fueled running with the bulls,” Cross said of her inspiration for the idea. And with more than 200 participating small businesses, there’s no shortage of sporting chances — and ample opportunities to find the perfect gift for everyone on your holiday shopping list.
In 2017, Little Boxes was purchased by Built Oregon, a nonprofit that supports Oregon-based companies and entrepreneurs producing locally made goods. The event was expanded to three days, running Nov. 24–26, 2017.
“We’re thrilled to bring Little Boxes into the Built Oregon community to further connect local shoppers and retailers,” said Terry St. Marie, co-founder of Built Oregon. “This event has become Portland’s Black Friday and Small Business Saturday tradition and an alternative to the frenzy at the big box retailers.”
Little Boxes encourages local shopping through a raffle for prizes like hotel stays, goods from Portland brands and and gift certificates to participating stores, including Bridge + Burn, Mercantile, Woonwinkel, Tender Loving Empire and many more.
Download the free Little Boxes app and head to any store on the list to receive your first raffle ticket. You’ll get a free raffle entry for every Little Boxes store you visit and every purchase earns you bonus raffle entries.
Here were a few of our favorite participating stores during the 2017 holiday season:
Step into the stylish side at Animal Traffic, an Americana-inspired clothing store in Southeast Portland. Here, classic vintage pieces coexist with Northwest heritage brands, allowing shoppers to stock up on cozy flannels, classic Levi’s and Pendleton blankets all at once. Around the corner sits the Annex, Animal Traffic’s brand-new boutique featuring hand-built boots and American-made footwear.
Carter & Rose
A tiny gift shop on bustling Southeast Division Street, Carter & Rose was founded by two best friends, a ceramicist and a florist. Together, they crafted a unique space to hold their collection of wall planters, jewelry, pottery and artwork. As a bonus, visitors can make their own creations during open clay studio time, available Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Sundays.
This charming garden shop is a cornucopia of urban farming supplies; shoppers pick up heirloom seeds, organic veggie starts, compost worms, even chickens. Pistils also offers many more carry-on-friendly finds including jewelry, soaps, glassware, pottery and even edible DIY projects (think kombucha starters and mushroom-growing kits).