Want some good news for a change? Some of Portland’s most beloved local artists and small shops are finding inspiring ways to stay connected, support the community, and stay in business during the global pandemic. And they’re feeling the love in return! When social distancing is getting us down, it’s good to know our favorite shops and circles are still out there. Read on to learn how to connect with and support them, so we can all gather together again when the crisis lifts.

Photo: via Hammer and Jacks.

Hammer + Jacks

In response to the pandemic and out of concern for the most vulnerable among us, the most compassionate thing we can do as a community is give each other some space. But what do you do when your business is a community space?

So much more than a toystore, Hammer and Jacks’ adorable indoor playspace has become a vital community hub in the Foster-Powell neighborhood over the past four years. From lactation support groups and kindie music concerts, to storytimes in Spanish and birthday parties, there’s always been something happening. Until now.

“It’s been a complete 180,” Owner Jillian Sevick says. “To go from being a gathering space to figuring out how to stay connected while doing [social distancing.] But there has [also] been an amazing outpouring of community.”

Even before Kate Brown officially ordered businesses to close under the shelter-in-place order, Hammer and Jacks closed their doors and began doing curbside pickup and home delivery only. Things got quiet around the store, with neighbors picking up bundles of toys outside the store, holding their kids up so they could wave at “the toystore lady” through the storefront window. A week later, after a lot of conversation, they began discouraging people from coming to the shop and switched to no-contact porch deliveries only, opting not to overload the postal system with non-essential business.

For now, the orders are still coming and the family-run business is still making free deliveries. Sevick is grateful for the opportunity to support Portland families in a safe way. She says the community has really shown that they care, and that she wants to cry every time she hears that customers want to support small businesses, and not just Amazon.

An added bright spot? Many H+J customers have opted to include balloons with their toy delivery. Sevick recalls delivering a rainbow of balloons to one house, where a child was feeling a little sad about her “virtual birthday party. After dropping off the package, Sevick received a text with a video of the girl spinning and dancing in the balloons.

“It took her from feeling glum about having a birthday party under quarantine, to lighting up when she saw the balloons,” Sevick says. “So yes it’s nice to feel the community behind us and have a sense that we can still go on. And at the same time, for me it’s an emotional boost to still be able to do this work, and support families under quarantine.”

Hammer and Jacks
6416 SE Foster Rd.
Portland, OR 97206

Order online: hammerandjacks.com

Photo: via Red Yarn Productions.

Red Yarn

A Red Yarn show is about more than just the music. It’s about the friendships made between kids and parents alike, and the way the community gathers to sing together even during hard times. The Portland performer is known for his warm personality, lively puppetry, and lyrics that manage to combine folk style and fun with political awareness and responsiveness.

At a time when many families in Portland and elsewhere are grappling with major upheaval, music remains a salve. Though Red Yarn can’t perform as usual under the stay-at-home order, he’s begun reuniting with fans during livestream performances.

“My first few Facebook Live shows were pretty rough with lots of technical issues, but a few tech-savvy parents generously reached out, gave me some pointers, and now I have a decent little system going in my living room,” says Red Yarn, aka Andy Furgeson. “I’ve always been wary of technology taking the place of ‘real’ human connection, but I’ve been amazed how engaging and connecting these livestream shows have felt.”

One surprising result of the virtual concerts is reaching more introverted kids, who might not be as likely to get up and dance at his in-person shows. Three times a week he broadcasts to living rooms everywhere via Facebook Live, during times he would have been doing his weekly shows at Taborspace, Village Ballroom, and Mississippi Pizza (all of which are amazing businesses, Furgeson points out, that deserve our support right now.)

This concern for others is central for Furgeson and characteristic of Red Yarn shows. While there are several ways that families can donate to support Red Yarn’s livestream performances during the pandemic, Furgeson stresses that he wants everyone to tune in, whether or not they are in a position to donate.

“I would especially like to invite parents who have been laid off or who are facing a major loss of income due to the Coronavirus crisis to tune in guilt- and donation-free,” he says. “So many people are hurting right now, and will continue to be hurt by the economic and health impacts of this crisis. I know a lot of artists and small business owners or employees who can’t shift their model so easily, and I’m trying to do what I can to spread the love.”

Though connecting virtually is different, he says it’s wonderful to witness artists, community-leaders and activists use technology to help others make it through a scary time.

Check out Red Tricycle’s largest, most comprehensive virtual events calendar of family-friendly activities  to find more virtual events.

Red Yarn Livestream Performances
Monday and Wednesday at 10 a.m.
Thursday at 4 p.m.
Online: facebook.com/redyarn
Stream music for free at redyarn.bandcamp.com
Watch music videos at youtube.com/redyarnfilms.

Photo: via Mimosa Studios

Mimosa Studios

Talk about going above and beyond for your customers. When the shelter-in-place order hit Portland, Mimosa Studios Owner Austin Raglione had to think fast. How could they continue offering the experience of their full-service ceramic painting studio to families cooped up at home?

“We’d offered take home painting kits in the past, for parties and gatherings, so it was a model we already had in place,” Raglione says. “It’s been popular [since the order], and I think a lot of people who don’t know about it would love it. It’s a tough road for a lot of kids and families stuck at home, and this is a great craft to bond over together.”

Raglione remembers doing crafts with her mother when she was growing up, and she loves being able to make people happy by helping them create memories during a tough time. The Take Home Painting Kits ($20-$30) come with all the ceramics, paint, brushes, and instructions needed to paint right at home. The kits are delivered to Portland-area homes, along with free pick-up for finished works, to be taken to the studio for firing. Once Mimosa Studios is able to reopen to the public, customers can pick up their work, fired and ready for display or use in the home.

The kits are easy to order online, and they offer 10% off for families who have lost employment due to the crisis. You can choose from unpainted ceramic mugs, garden pots and gnomes, magical figurines, or bowls. If there’s a specific figure or item you’re looking for, you can call during business hours and staff will help find the right item to pack up for you. All materials are sanitized before delivery, and the paint is washable, so it’s safe to set up at the kitchen table.

After nearly 20 years in business, Raglione says Mimosa Studios has always been about building community, and that’s what she wants to focus on now, too. Before the pandemic, she enjoyed seeing people connect at the family-style table in their small studio. Now, closing the studio doors is the best choice she can make for the community, even though it’s hard.

“We want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem,” she says. “If people can support small businesses to whatever extent they’re able, that’s going to help everyone.”

Mimosa Studios
1718 NE Alberta St.
503-288-0770 (Wed. and Sat. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.)
Delivery on Mon., Wed., and Sat. (free)
Order Online: mimosastudios.com

 Photo: via Green Bean Books.

Green Bean Books

For many of its devoted customers, the temporary shuttering of the whimsical red-painted children’s bookstore in the beloved Alberta Arts District came as a blow– one in a long string of necessary closures in response to the pandemic. Beyond the hand-picked selection of children’s books and the big green reading couch at the center of the store, there was the community of families that met weekly for multilingual story-times, craft sessions, and music circles. How could they carry that warmth and connection into the unexpected shift to social distancing?

“The hardest part for us has been getting our online ordering up and running,” says Owner Jennifer Green. “We have always prided ourselves on being an experience store: one in which you really have to go into our store in order to feel the magic. Now all that is not possible, so we are figuring out an online book ordering system.”

While they work on creating an easy-to-use online ordering system, the small team of booksellers is available daily by phone for book recommendations and ordering. With the ability to order just about any book through their distributors, including adult books, they encourage customers to pick up the phone and purchase a book. Clean and safe curbside pick-up is available, along with free porch delivery for homes on the east side of the river and reasonably close to the store.

“Customers have been so kind and concerned and we really feel embraced by our strong community of readers!” she reflects. “It has felt like one big group hug some days! (And) we will need continued support to get through this.”

One way to do that is to purchase a gift certificate for future use, which can be mailed or kept at the store for phone orders or once doors open again. Consider purchasing an audiobook through partner Libro.fm, with all sales supporting Green Bean Books. Already have enough books to last you through the crisis? Order a surprise bundle to be delivered to a friend in need of a little cheer, or purchase a stack of books to be delivered to the Children’s Book Bank, a  nonprofit working to distribute books to kids in need in the Portland area.

Green Bean Books
1600 NE Alberta Street
503-954-2354 (daily from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m.)
Online: greenbeanbookspdx.com

Call during business hours to place an order, and check back for online ordering!

-Melissa Poulin


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