As much as we begrudge the Albertas, Mississippis, and Divisions for their vibrancy and access to shopping, groceries, and many of the amenities we lack in mid and outer SE Portland, we also contribute to the disparity on some level. No, we are not in control of the environmental, economic, or infrastructural elements that determine the shape, character and prosperity of our neighborhoods, but we do have a choice in where we spend our money and which neighborhood businesses to support. And to that effect, it is no wonder that restaurants thrive on Division, but have little chance of expanding to the nearby environs of Foster Road. As long as we choose to hop in our cars to eat, shop, and play, our own economy will lag and sputter.
To encourage more local support of our own economy, and thus improve and/or change what we currently call a commercial district (whether on Foster, 72nd, 82nd, 92nd, etc), it is up to us to keep business moving within the community. To encourage such local support and investment, Lents resident, Cora Potter has shared the following with us: a challenge to keep your money in the neighborhood and improve the local economy…
“Challenge: It seems to me that inner SE, NE and North Portland neighborhoods have a the reputation being able to support businesses – and the businesses are flocking there in multiples. For example – there are 3 places to buy hand crafted ice cream in and around Williams and Alberta. Now, when I look at the actual population and market statistics, this doesn’t make sense. There’s not enough people there to support that many similar businesses. So, what’s going on? They’re getting business from outside the neighborhood, and I’m betting that some of it is East Portlanders making a trek to get something nice because we can’t get it here.
So, what would happen if we stopped doing that and started buying locally only? Sure, it might hurt at first- we’d have to stand in line for biscuits and gravy on Sunday since there’s only one place to get it in a huge market area. Or, we could switch to eating congee and dim sum, since that’s what we have available. But the truth is, small businesses aren’t going to see our neighborhood as a viable market until we start spending money in our neighborhood and up the $$$$$ that changes hands here instead of taking it to Williams or Hawthorne or Alberta or East Burnside and creating the illusion that the economic strength lives there alone.
So, I’m challenging you to make the same pledge I have made. I am doing all I can in my power to only spend money East of SE/NE 60th Avenue on the weekends. If you want pointers on where to take that brunch money – I’m happy to help. Bonus points for FoPo and MSA residents that venture east of 82nd! I can definitely help there.”