Santa’s wink. Silly dogs in red scarves. Snowflakes and deliciously shmaltzy songs. Everyone who’s craving holiday shopping as it was before COVID-19 is bound to get swept up this season.
And go ahead and mail those wish-list letters off to the North Pole. Despite the national panic about Grinch-like delivery gridlocks, Oregon shelves are expected to be stocked with locally made products that aren’t stuck in cargo containers stuffed with imported goods.
Retailers have noticed people’s preference for quality over quantity this year, perhaps due to the higher cost of living or a reconnection to core values during the pandemic lockdown. And local makers who produce home goods, health and beauty items, and food with unique Pacific Northwest ingredients have an advantage here.
Portland jewelry maker Olia Myroniuk, who creates ready-made and made-to-order pieces that she promotes through the Instragram feed @pdxgiftguide, says smaller businesses are willing to work with customers one-on-one.
“People walk into the store and say, ‘it’s so cute in here’ or ‘it smells so good,’” said Louisa Rocks, manager of the Tender Loving Empire store in Bridgeport Village in Tigard, as she gestured toward soaps handmade with saponified evening primrose and Wildwood Candle Co.’s. candles scented with essential oils.
“If they ask what’s going on here? I say ‘creativity,” said Rocks.
Then she sets them free to leisurely stroll around and serendipitously discover the perfect present, just like the old days.
There’s even a silver lining in social distancing. Retailers limiting the number of shoppers in the store at one time allow customers to receive more personalized attention, said Lauren Stumpf of MadeHere, a gift shop in Portland’s Pearl District with items from more than 200 regional producers.
The challenge of rising shipping costs and snaggles can also be sidestepped by shopping close to home. Portland’s free, five-minute FastStop parking lets people order online then pull over and pick up at the store.
Downtown window shoppers passing by displays on the corner of Southwest Yamhill Street and Ninth Avenue can scan a QR code and buy directly from more than 30 Black, Indigenous and People of Color businesses participating in My People’s Market, Dec. 5, 12 and 19, at The Redd, 831 S.E. Salmon St.
And members of the statewide Built Oregon Marketplace, who sell their goods online, can arrange private pickups at their studios and Rudolph-like home deliveries. Some local makers provide free shipping codes at checkout.
Built Oregon Marketplace director Mitch Daugherty applauds those who already buy local — the outdoor Portland Saturday Market continues until Dec. 18 — and he hopes people discover even more makers around the state. Pop-up shops and vendor gatherings are everywhere.
Here is a sampling of Oregon-made items, from Portland’s Orox Leather Company’s wallets to Medford’s Harry & David gift baskets, and advice to find local goods, in-person and online, and to have a gift delivered on time:
When retailers and arts-and-crafts markets temporarily shut down in March 2020 to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, Oregon artists, makers and creatives bumped up their online presence and many banded together to stay in business.
This year, shoppers can meet makers in person: A rotation of more than 70 local vendors will have a variety of items, from art to presents for pets, for sale at the Makers Studio pop-up shop, inside Lonesome Pictopia at 820 N. Russell St., from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, Nov. 17 through Dec. 24.
There will be free, maker-led demonstrations, classes and tastings from 6 to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. See the calendar at makersunionpdx.com/pages/welcome.
“We are really trying to make this shopping experience be about the makers and their stories,” said Jaime Johnston, who creates eco-friendly Goddamn Man Co. beard grooming products.
TIPS FOR SHOPPERS: Masks are required and shoppers will be asked to wait under a tent outside if there’s a capacity crowd.
DEADLINES TO CONSIDER: Works by 15 to 20 local makers are displayed Wednesday through Sunday, then the space is re-merchandise with a new collection for the next week. Each Sunday, shoppers can enjoy the Last Chance Mimosa Sip-n-Shop of the current collection.
WHERE TO SHOP: makersunionpdx.com and the pop-up shop at 820 N. Russell St.
General manager Stumpf said the company averted supply speed bumps by placing orders early. “That doesn’t mean we won’t run out of things,” she said, “but you will not be walking in and seeing empty shelves and tables the week of Christmas.”
SHOP FOR: North Drinkware has a limited-run Mount Hood wool blanket with a topographical representation of the mountain woven on a jacquard weaving loom at Pendleton Woolen Mills ($325, 64 inches by 80 inches).
And Tumbler Candles has hand-poured, 100% soy wax candles with wood wicks, dried flowers and pure essential oils (12-ounce glass tumbler, $36).
DEADLINES TO CONSIDER: MadeHere no longer offers local deliveries. Online customers will pay for increased postal service shipping costs and may encounter delays this season, said Stumpf. “We encourage folks to order early if they want gifts to arrive with enough time,” she said.
WHERE TO SHOP: 40 N.W. 10th Ave. in Portland and madehereonline.com (503-224-0122)
The one-stop Built Oregon Marketplace site has works by 400 Oregonian food purveyors, fashion creators, wellness promoters and makers of crafted holiday gifts — like cards of photographer Samantha Barsky’s Portland landmarks — and presents for beloved pets.
You can find something for everyone, from bamboo toothbrushes ($14 for two) and hydrating Elbows, Knees and Toes Balm ($15) to West Coast Tang barbecue sauce and a camping-theme suncatcher to brighten your day.
Products can be searched by region, gift types and categories, and delivered to your door. Some makers also allow in-store pickup.
“Every dollar spent goes to the maker, who is your neighbor, so you are supporting your community and contributing to longterm benefits,” said director Mitch Daugherty.
TIPS FOR SHOPPERS: Need to wrap up gifts in a practical, reusable way? There are totes and recycled cotton market bags as well as other gifts that hold everything, including cash like a classic bifold wallet ($90) by Northwest Portland’s by Orox Leather Company.
DEADLINES TO CONSIDER: Makers fulfill their own orders so check with them on delivery and shipping instructions.
WHERE TO SHOP: builtoregon.shop
MEET MAKERS: In addition to the year-round builtoregon.shop, Built Oregon is hosting an in-person pop-up market featuring Black-owned brands such as Glory Skincare and Exilior coffee, from 1 to 5:30 p.m. Nov. 26 at Centrl Office, 1155 S.W. Morrison St. in downtown Portland.
“The Black Friday event is a great way to support these businesses and the chance to meet some amazing local company founders,” said Daugherty.
Mail-order company Harry & David in Medford is the state’s oldest and best known local producer. For a century, the company has been growing fruit in its Rogue Valley orchards and shipping gifts baskets filled with gold-wrapped Royal Riviera pears and treats from its bakery and candy kitchen.
TIPS FOR SHOPPERS: Harry & David has cooked up the SmartGift for last-minute shoppers or gifters who are just guessing. Just click the red “send with SmartGift” bar underneath the image. The recipient can digitally “unwrap” the gift — say a classic fruit cake weighing two pounds ($29.99) — and accept it or change it for something else — like mixed nuts inside a Holiday Nutcracker tin or a red-striped box with truffles, peppermint bark and Moose Munch popcorn — and choose the preferred delivery address and delivery date.
DEADLINES TO CONSIDER: The company, which is part of 1800Flowers.com, benefits from its large shipping volume and longtime relationship with carriers. Still, orders sent standard shipping need to be placed by:
- Wednesday, Nov. 17, to be received by Hanukkah Eve on Sunday, Nov. 28
- Friday, Nov. 19 for Thanksgiving, Nov. 25
- Saturday, Dec. 18 for Christmas, Saturday, Dec. 25
- Saturday, Dec. 25 for New Year’s Day, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022
— Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072