Holiday Shopping

Little Boxes—the Pro-Local, Anti-Big Retailer Shopping Event—Returns for its Eighth Year

More than 150 small business owners take part in this three-day shopping event, which has a few changes in store for 2019.

By Alli Weseman November 27, 2019

Local goods from Tender Loving Empire, one of 150+ stores participating in Little Boxes 2019.

Image: Alli Weseman

You’ve seen the lines wrapped around the store, full of people waiting to get their hands on discounted TVs. You’ve stood in line for hours, only to reach the register and realize that you didn’t get a gift for your mom. Black Friday is a classic case of “good in theory, not in execution.”

Now in its eighth year, Little Boxes is an alternative to the typical Black Friday madness that allows local retailers to reap the benefits of this massive shopping weekend. Across three days (Nov 29–Dec 1 this year), participating stores offer discounts and other incentives to steer shoppers away from big box retaielrs.

Founded as a two-day event in 2010 by local shop owners Will Cervarich and Betsy Cross, Built Oregon took it over in 2017 and added a third. The event has grown to include over 150 shops.

“Little Boxes formed to highlight local retailers,” says Built Oregon Cofounder Terry St. Marie.  “There are all these different neighborhoods that offer all of these interesting shopping experiences.” 

Since 2013, Little Boxes has utilized a popular digital app where shoppers receive raffle entries for every individual store they visit—prizes included Benson staycations and gift cards to participating stores. This is the first year the event will operate without it, which St. Marie says is part of a broader effort to restructure the

To see the full list of retailers, click here. 


This holiday season, NE Alberta’s Crafty Wonderland is going all-in for local artists. People can score iconic Portland sights on a slew of products, including the white stag sign on a onesie and painted canvases of the city’s bridges. Customers that make a purchase during the event will be entered into a raffle for a $50 gift card to Crafty Wonderland or two tickets to the Friday Night Preview Party at the Holiday Art and Craft Market.

Downtown/West End

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for your desert-obsessed friend, Dream Cloud Bohemian Market has you covered. The store prides themselves on selling handmade sustainable garments and throws. In addition, they also have plenty of incense available that will help restore balance after a long day of carbs and talking to your family. On Small Business Saturday, the first 10 customers that spend $50 or more will receive a free pair of house-made earrings.


What’s not to love about Tender Loving Empire? Music lovers can choose from a wide range of the record label’s titles, and everyone else can sift through their quirky greeting cards to Oregon-specific souvenirs. This Black Friday, customers that spend $30 or more at any TLE will unlock a selection of $5 gifts, ranging from fun prints to compilation CDs.

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