local stores and shops are highly valued by the city's
Respondents are nearly unanimous in their support
of Portland’s small-scale shopping and business districts
scattered amongst the city’s different residential
neighborhoods. For a variety of reasons, many Portlanders
prefer to shop at the independent, locally-owned stores
that are found in neighborhood business districts.
However, these highly-valued shopping areas are not
located in all neighborhoods and do not serve all
shoppers equally well. There are many calls to expand
access to shopping and retail outlets, both in certain
neighborhoods and downtown. Some would also like to
see more community and political support for “green”
shopping and businesses that commit to sustainable
Many people see shopping as inextricably linked to
housing. Portlanders are quite skeptical of newer
developments, like the Pearl District, which they
perceive as less accessible both for shopping and
living because of its upscale feel. A small number
of people, especially youth, speak of the importance
of the local malls and shopping as a way to build
community. Most people, however, appreciate the relative
lack of malls and big box stores in close-in areas
of the city, believing that this helps preserve cherished
small-scale neighborhood shopping areas.
most highly prized retail areas are the distinct
business districts located within walking distance
of residential neighborhoods.
groups of people experience Portland’s shopping
options as too limited.
- Shopping centers should
be accessible to many types of people.
- How does the issue of
homelessness impact businesses and shopping?
- Do malls contribute to
or detract from Portland’s shopping experience?
most highly prized retail areas are the
distinct business districts located within
walking distance of residential neighborhoods.
- Respondents speak of wanting to preserve
and enhance the small, distinct neighborhood
shopping districts that include a variety
of locally-owned restaurants, coffee shops,
brew pubs, farmers markets and many other
- These shopping districts create an appealing
sense of livability, as well as comfort
in knowing that one does not have to travel
far to find what one needs or desires.
- Thriving mixed-use neighborhoods should
include centers with a variety of small,
independent businesses rather than franchises
or “big box” businesses (for more on the
qualities of local businesses that residents
appreciate, see Economy:
appreciate Portland's focus on controlled
growth, and development of neighborhood
business districts, rather that sprawl
and mall oriented shopping."
to build distinct community retail areas.”
local shopping and restaurants built
into communities like 23rd or Hawthorne.”
establish a preference for promoting
the development of villages within the
city, with shopping, schools, medical
care, libraries decentralized into small
crossroads-based villages surrounded
by vibrant neighborhoods. The central
core would remain essential for participation
in the economic life of the region,
but centralized shopping malls, big
box stores and national chains would
be discouraged and local, small vendors
- “No more building of single family
housing. Well designed, multifamily structures
that are self contained with shopping venues
and direct access to transportation…"
groups of people experience Portland’s shopping
options as too limited.
- To some respondents, Portland still feels
like a small town with minimal retail diversity.
- Another group acknowledges that Portland
has many shopping options, but feel that
their specific interests or tastes are not
accomodated. These residents see room for
improvement in neighborhood shopping districts
as well as in downtown.
- Some individuals belonging to ethnic
or cultural minority groups feel that neighborhood
shopping districts do not cater to their
tastes or styles.
- A number of people are also concerned
that gentrification of neighborhoods such
as Alberta Arts and Mississippi have reduced
shopping options for long-time neighborhood
- Many neighborhood residents do not want
access to boutiques to override access to
basic amenities and services in neighborhood
- Some neighborhoods lack access to farmers
markets and grocery stores that sell local,
- Some high-end shoppers feel that options
are limited for them downtown. They would
like to see:
- More access to high-end men’s wear;
- More name-brand retailers of clothing
as well as housewares; and
- Shopping options on par with those
currently available at upscale malls
in Hillsboro and Tualatin (e.g., Bridgeport
- Others express general concern over the
number of businesses closing downtown and
fear that this trend will negatively impact
the shopping options and overall livability
of the downtown area.
small businesses thrive through monetary
assistance instead of buyouts would
be appreciated. We don’t just want Anglo
culture continuing to dominate neighborhoods
that are experiencing rebuilding (i.e.
- In urban renewal areas, existing
small businesses should qualify for monetary
assistance in order to avoid displacement
of businesses, and to sustain diverse shopping
centers should be accessible to many types
- Respondents touch on accessibility issues
in this section that have to do with affordability
and physical access to shops.
- Many people are skeptical of newer developments
like the Pearl District, which are less
affordable and accessible both for shopping
- Some people feel that the development
of upscale shopping and housing should be
prevented if it does not incorporate affordable
living and shopping options.
- Mixed-use housing and businesses should
be developed, with businesses on the
street level and housing above.
- Store owners should be able to easily
increase access to their stores, whether
it is making a more pedestrian or bike-friendly
environment or increasing parking space.
so many of the upscale housing and shopping,
it’s getting out of hand, especially
in the Pearl area and now close in eastside
is beginning to go the same way.”
access to downtown from East suburbia
(hop on a Max Train and downtown in
20 minutes or less), business is thriving
(easier to shop downtown than at the
mall and more fun)."
and parking is a big deterrent to downtown.
Portland is a small city but I like
to see more people walking and shopping
by making an easier way to park your
car or ride from the big outer area
to Portland a good place to go. Max,
trolley, and buses are great improvement
but we need new kind of transportation
that will be easy to commute."
should businesses and shoppers deal with the issue
Limit the impact
of homelessness on shoppers: A portion
of respondents believe that people’s shopping
experience downtown is adversely affected by the
number of people living on the streets. Some people
even argue that businesses lose revenue and business
because potential shoppers are deterred by the
fear of encounters with people experiencing homelessness.
Others think that tourists are also negatively
impacted by homelessness when they visit Portland’s
downtown or ride the MAX. These respondents generally
advocate for immediate efforts to get homeless
people off the streets and away from storefronts
and shopping areas.
Work with the
community to address the root causes of homelessness:
Some respondents are concerned by the idea
that people experiencing homelessness should be
made less visible to improve the comfort level
of shoppers or downtown business owners. These
individuals view solving homelessness as a social
responsibility that should be shared by businesses
as well as community members. They would like
to see the business community take an active role
in directly addressing the root causes of homelessness,
rather than trying to patrol storefronts or criminalize
people without housing. They are willing for shoppers
to feel some discomfort, if this helps focus attention
on the problem of homelessness and the need for
more permanent solutions.
refer to Social
malls contribute to or detract from Portland’s
Some people express their appreciation for malls
like Lloyd Center, and would like to see malls
expanded and/or new malls built. Malls have a
particular appeal to young people. They offer
not only shopping but also a social setting
and an important community and public space to
mingle with friends.
However, an even larger group of respondents
actively opposes the concept of more malls and
“big box” stores, attributing these stores to
the decline of small, locally-owned businesses
and shopping districts. They also feel that the
look and feel of large, big box stores and malls
detracts from the distinct, charming shopping
districts where more "human scale" storefronts
and independent stores and restaurants line the