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, giveaways and discounts.
“We want shopping locally owned stores to feel more like leisure sport and less like an adrenaline-fueled running with the bulls,” Cross says 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.
Getting started is easy. Download the free Little Boxes app or pick up a passport at any participating Little Box location. With map in hand, head to any store on the list to receive your first raffle ticket, good for a chance at more than 90 prizes, ranging from homemade pies to Hawaiian vacations. Each stop at a Little Box store earns you another entry. No purchase is necessary for raffle tickets, but purchases will earn you a special reward: Show your app or paper passport at your next Little Box stop for a 10% discount.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few of our favorite participating stores.
Step into the stylish side of the Wild West at Animal Traffic, an Americana-inspired clothing store on trendy Mississippi Avenue. 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. Downtown, a second Animal Traffic location awaits West End shoppers.
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).
Xtabay Vintage Clothing Boutique
Gatsby-era glamour lives on at Xtabay, a posh vintage boutique in Southeast Portland (pictured at left). Xtabay’s collection of designer gowns and costume jewelry from decades past has garnered a cult following nationwide; the store’s star-studded clientele includes actresses Tilda Swinton and Carrie Brownstein.
Bridge City Mercantile
Pick up Portland-themed presents for all your hard-to-buy-for family members at Bridge City Mercantile. This twee storefront is packed with whimsical pieces straight out of Portlandia: Recent finds included vegan facial serums, tiny wall terrariums and cuff links inspired by local bridges.