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Holiday Shopping Done in a Snap

The Portland design community is making it easier than ever to shop from a safe distance this holiday season with Window Shop 2020: See, Scan, & Support Local.

By Rachel Gallaher

Shop this curated window at 2805 SE Ankeny Street with no more than your phone, part of the Window Shop 2020: See, Scan, & Support Local initiative. Image by Chris Dibble.

The holiday season is usually prime time for small businesses but given the current occupancy restrictions and stay-home, stay-safe initiatives, many shops and independent boutiques are struggling to keep afloat.

In response, a group from the ever-resourceful Portland design community has launched Window Shop 2020: See, Scan, & Support Local, a collaborative campaign from Makers Union PDX (MUPDX) and Portland Made. With the goal of helping local makers and artists get their products in front of customers, Window Shop is activating vacant window fronts around the city, curating shoppable products along with a QR code that, when scanned, will direct pedestrians to where they can purchase the items on display in each window.

According to local photographer Chris Dibble, one of the minds behind Makers Union PDX and Window Shop, the concept was a meeting of the minds, as the folks behind Portland Made were mulling over a similar initiative as well.

“I started reaching out to local boutiques a few months ago to see what they had planned for holiday shopping this year,” he says. “When I spoke with my friend Kristin Van Buskirk, the owner of Woonwinkle, she had shared with me the incredible concept of creating window displays in newly vacant shops on her street downtown with a QR code buyers could scan to purchase the items in the window. From that seed, Makers Union PDX set out to do something similar, only we wanted to take over vacant windows throughout the city to showcase the makers featured on the MUPDX digital marketplace. At that point, we teamed up with our friends at Portland Made to make this even bigger by inviting their members to participate as well!”

The Alberta Street window features a bright, abstract mural by artist Latoya Lovely. Image by Chris Dibble.

There are currently three activated windows around town (see below for locations), all put together by Shana McCullough of Shana Design C+O, who served as the creative director for the project, and Elise Klein of Klein Design Studios, who lent her art directing prowess. In addition, Jubal Prevatte of CarpentryPDX supplied all materials and built out every component for each window, and Miller Paint donated all the paint used. In the Alberta Window, Black female artist, Latoya Lovely painted a beautiful mural to set the tone for the curation of that space.

“I love that both Makers Union PDX and Portland Made dreamed of the project separately,” says Meghan Sinnott, director of Portland Made, who had been discussing a similar window-display concept with her team before teaming up with MUPDX. “Since the pandemic hit, I've taken to walking as a pastime. Though I'm avoiding going into establishments, I've become more attuned to what's happening in my neighborhood, specifically at the brick-and-mortar shops and restaurants. Between Portland's first and second lockdown, I met with the executive director of one of our local main street organizations, and we talked about ways to bring life to shopping districts and support local makers who were struggling from the lack of markets. We first imagined collaborating with existing shops to host makers, but the idea of encouraging people to go inside shops didn't seem right, so we dreamed up the possibility of activating empty shop windows and encouraging people to support local makers in a contact-free way— through windows with QR codes!”

Each of the Window Shop 2020 displays features pieces from the artists and makers of Portland Made and Makers Union PDX. Image by Chris Dibble.

All Makers Union PDX and Portland Made members have the opportunity to participate, and the only outreach beyond members was to BIPOC makers in the community. An added bonus? 15% of sales will go to Black Resilience Fund, a Portland-based emergency fund dedicated to healing and resilience by providing immediate resources to Black Portlanders.

“While it’s always important to support each other and the communities in which we live, 2020 has presented an abundance of challenges across the board,” Dibble says. “Many local makers have been hit hard by the closure of in-person markets, particularly end of year markets where they can make most of their yearly sales. Many boutiques have had to shutter as well, making it more difficult to wholesale products. Running a small business is difficult, especially if you’re making handmade products, so we want to encourage the PNW to support these makers so they can continue to create heirloom pieces, products that are better for the environment, and art that is unique and one-of-a-kind. Not only does this campaign allow makers to sell their work, but also allows buyers to shop in a safe, unique and convenient way.”


· 1538 NE Alberta Street

· 2805 SE Ankeny Street

· NW Quimby between 22nd and 23rd (in a new building without an official address)

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