Bricks Need Mortar founder and CEO, Sarah Shaoul, has been awarded Travel Portland’s President’s Award for leadership, innovation and support of Portland’s small business community.
The award was presented by Travel Portland President, Jeff Miller and Portland Mayor, Ted Wheeler.
Inspiring key notes were delivered by NPR host and correspondent, Ari Shapiro, and Oregon Governor, Tina Kotek.
Photo by Kim Oanh Nguyen @photosbykim
In receiving the award, Shaoul shares: “I am honored to be recognized by Travel Portland for work to ensure the success of our small business community.
While I’m outspoken about what I believe in, I don’t really seek out personal recognition, nor am I motivated by that. So, I must share with you the gravity of how touched I was to be on stage be recognized for this work!
Connecting and collaborating with the Travel Portland team over the past 3+ years has truly been an honor because Travel Portland, in my own humble opinion, is doing some of the most impactful work to keep Portland the most wonderful place to live, work, play and visit!
And of course, that work is no 1 individual’s or organization’s accomplishment. As the awards event highlights so beautifully, it is the work and passion of so many that make Portland the amazing place it is!
It is truly the efforts of the hundreds of innovative, fun, creative, and inspiring small businesses who make this wonderful place where people come to fall in love with Portland.”
As we’ve now compiled data for 3 years, comparing data from one year to the next reveals some important differences worth noting. Small business crime has increased significantly from 63% to 79%, while small businesses made cuts to employee healthcare benefits. We encourage you to view the 2022 We Are Here report side by side with the 2021 We Are Here report.
And in 2022 we see that holiday and annual sales data remain largely consistent with the majority of sales happening in-store.
While there are some hopeful signs of growth and some small businesses reporting increases in revenue, the open comments sections reveal significant challenges and pain in the small business community.
Key survey input to share:
There needs to be a grand grant/financial support/thank you from the city for those of us that have put our business on the front lines for the community to still have a place they hold safe, when we have put our own lives + livelihoods in the hands of Portland Proper…
We need BIG leadership, I think. We need someone really focusing on cost of living or bringing new money into our local economy. We need the public to hear over and over and over again to get out of their house, walk their neighborhood streets, go and spend money in local businesses. And we need police, graffiti and trash clean up, fair parking enforcement, homelessness to be addressed, etc. etc. etc.
Rent continues to increase despite all the hardships that operating in a pandemic, recession and increased crime. This is another hit that pushes businesses to close (we may be forced to close soon!)
Small business/home owners pay a lot in taxes and are royally getting screwed in this city! Would love to see policy makers actually helping keep small businesses around rather than running them out of town!
These surveys are a massive undertaking and we appreciate every small business owner who took the time to share their experience and their data in an effort to build community so together we can be stronger and show that We Are Here.
Please consider becoming a Bricks Need Mortar member today and support this important work so we can continue to advocate for this community!
We invite you to review the data and input in the 2022 Shop Small Win Big Holiday Campaign report. We continue to learn from each event, the participating businesses and those shoppers who come out to play. We incorporate all this learning into our planning for this year so we can improve and build on this campaign to incentivize and amplify the important action to SHOP SMALL!
BIG THANKS to all the sponsors who make Shop Small Win Big possible!
Morel Ink •Travel Portland •Central Eastside Industrial Council •Kuto •Lime•Legwork Local Delivery •Prosper Portland •Point West Credit Union •Unitus Community Credit Union •The Oregonian •Portland Business Alliance •Cloud City Realty •Venture Portland •Willamette Week •Out Front Media • The Adrift Hotel • Kickstand Comedy • The Jupiter Hotel and Jupiter NextPortland • Center Stage • Miller Paint • Mississippi Studios and Revolution Hall • The Mark Spencer Hotel • The Patricia Reser Center • Inn at Northrup Station • Bons Amis • Water Closet Media • Sustainable Restaurant Group • Business for a Better Portland
As we enter a new year with new challenges, it’s important to make note of our accomplishments and how we can build upon them to make the greatest and most meaningful impact moving forward.
YOU and YOUR BUSINESS are at the center of all we do. As a support organization we aim to highlight your businesses. It can be easy to overlook our accomplishments as our focus is on the very small businesses that create community.
Wrapping up another difficult year, we take note of our achievements in the past year to build upon them and best serve you as we continue to forge forward in 2023.
1. We worked with members to host a Retail Specific DEI Training specifically designed for small businesses. Coming together we were able to offer 2 separate session dates of this 2 day training that offered an affordable DEI training for small businesses and their staff. Feedback from this event was overwhelmingly positive.
“I loved that it was all local businesses and that we were able to use concrete examples for learning. Previous trainings I’ve done have not been as relatable.”
2. Bricks Need Mortar worked with Worksystems on the Paid Worker Program to advise on the program while helping small businesses participate in receiving up to 2 paid workers earning $17/hour for up to 300 hours + $1K bonus. We will continue to be involved in this program into 2023.
3. Bricks Need Mortar Public Affairs Engagement:
Meeting with Prosper Portland to ensure that the needs of small businesses are understood and reflected in the City Budget Proposal. As Portland City Council moved forward a budget with no allocations for small businesses, Bricks Need Mortar fought for targeted and increased funding for small businesses. We are certain that without our input allocations would have been significantly lower.
Engaging with Mayor’s Office, City Council and County Chair Offices on the urgent need to address and mitigate crimes on small businesses. Through our surveys we were able to provide eye opening statistics on small businesses that otherwise was not being tracked. We offered new ideas for mitigating crime and will continue to press for those to be adopted and enacted. This is why surveys are crucial. Please take a moment to fill out this year’s survey linked below.
Met with Tina Kotek Campaign to ensure that they understand the great challenges and needs of our small business community.Not all businesses are alike. We emphasized that small businesses are important for our economy and our communities and deserving of recognition and support.
Participated in Panel Discussion on the Future of Retail hosted by CREW (Women in Commercial Real Estate). As the only small business advocate on the panel, Bricks Need Mortar pressed for more shared responsibility between commercial landlords and tenants and that recovery would be swifter with more proactive and creative measures of support from property owners.
Participated in efforts to renegotiate City of Portland’s delivery service caps. During the pandemic, City of Portland temporarily capped delivery fees charged to small businesses at 10%. As the cap was expiring, delivery companies and their lobbyists pressed City officials to lift the cap. We worked with others to inform policy makers and work for a more equitable fee structure.
4. We successfully proposed and lobbied City of Portland to designate $.5M to distribute federal relief dollars to Portlanders that could only be spent at small businesses. With the City of Portland receiving millions of dollars in CARES ACT and ARPA funding we made sure that some of this funding would go to small businesses.
5. Hosted a Candidate Forum to bring Portland City Council and Multnomah County Chair candidates together to discuss the needs and challenges of our small business community and hear the solutions that these candidates intend to pursue in support of small businesses.
6. Delivering timely learning sessions and panel discussions to help improve your efforts, efficiencies and impact to your bottom line. From Creating Strong Brand Photography to Understanding Consumer Behavior, we curated important learning sessions and panel discussions for you to learn and take back to your own businesses.
7. Conducting surveys and sharing easy to digest infographic data on the health of our small business community. We share these with policy makers and with you so you know where you stand in relation to your peers, noting the ever changing environment and realities of conducting business in these times. Link to annual survey is below.
8. Bringing Small Businesses together for the expanded Shop Small Win Big holiday campaign that included robust paid social media, multiple billboards around the city, participation that increased 3x over 2021, support from Travel Portland, Prosper Portland, CEIC, Morel Ink and many others. We printed 20K shopping guides which are distributed in businesses and hotels across the city. Additionally, we surveyed participating businesses and shoppers to learn how we can continue to improve the campaign and inform our focus for professional development offerings in 2022. Stay tuned for our upcoming series of events and holiday campaign report coming out next week.
9. Conducted coaching sessions in group and one on one to provide ongoing support and experienced insight for your businesses. We provide retail specific small business coaching and professional referrals for more specific small business needs. We continue to build out our professional service provider offerings to make it affordable and accessible.
“Your tax professional referral tracked down a bit over $61K for us – a shit ton of money we could use right now! Thanks for connecting us with her!”
10. Maintain the Visibility of the Small Business Community in Press and Amongst Consumers. We provide press with important information about the health of the small business community, while maintaining a positive message about the importance of small businesses to the community at large. With strategic partnerships like #pdxunites we also work to reward consumers in supporting small businesses. In 2022 we worked with Unitus Community Credit Union to give away $7K in small business gift certificates, encouraging people to discover new businesses and choose to shop small.
We’ve learned a lot and as a membership organization we’re accountable only to you and your small businesses. As a member driven organization we are more swift and agile and that’s how we are effective in moving the needle for this community. All of this work is made possible by everyone who chips in as a Bricks Need Mortar member to be in community to strengthen our ecosystem of brick and mortar businesses.
We are excited about the programming we have planned for 2023. Programming is directed by your input and requests. We receive these 2 ways:
1. Direct input from Conversations Please join us at our first meeting of the year to be held Thursday, January 26th 9am-10am at Steeplejack Brewing on NE Broadway. This meeting is open to BNM members and all small business owners who are interested. There is no charge for attending. Please rsvp, so we can reserve an appropriate sized room. Please join us! This is your chance to influence this year’s goals and actions.
2. Survey Response Data Please fill out the 2022 in Review 2023 Look Ahead Survey TODAY! One individual will be chosen at random to win a $100 small shops big hearts gift card redeemable at over 1,000 Portland small businesses! Fill out the survey TODAY!
As we close in on 2 years operating under a global pandemic it’s important to take a look at what we’ve accomplished and where we can best make an impact moving forward.
Bricks Need Mortar was born from the pandemic to bring our small businesses together in community over competition, to increase visibility and be seen by both, policy makers and customers. We advocate for smart policy and much needed supports for this community, the backbone of our economy.
As a support organization Bricks Need Mortar’s mission is to provide wrap-around support for your small businesses beginning with increased visibility to your small businesses. It can be easy to overlook our accomplishments as our focus is on you. Wrapping up another difficult year, we take note of our achievements to build upon them and best serve you as we continue to forge forward in 2022.
1.- We worked with Oregon Representative Nosse and our partners at Oregon Small Businesses United (OSBU) to successfully pass legislation to extend the repayment deadline for the deferred commercial repayment period to allow for more time for federal relief dollars to reach your small businesses.
2.- We hosted a call with Sen Ron Wyden and Bricks Need Mortar members to share the immediate and longterm needs of our members. We continue to stay engaged with Sen Wyden’s staff following up on your requests.
3.- We partnered with Kuto to create the first of its kind alternative to corporate gift cards, a single gift card that can be used at now over 400 small businesses. In our 2020 Portland Pledge Holiday campaign we heard from small business supporters that they wanted to give a universal small business gift card where people had a variety of choices of where it can be spent. We found that partner and made it happen.
4.- We proposed a stimulus program to give federal dollars to Portlanders that could only be spent at small businesses. With the City of Portland receiving Millions of dollars in CARES ACT and ARPA funding we made sure that as much of this funding would go to our small businesses. In September we worked with partners BBPDX, PSU, Kuto and City of Portland to successfully deploy $30K in stimulus to PSU students to spend only in small businesses. This program was successful and will extend into 2022.
5.- We serve on task force & action tables and engage with policy makers at the City, County, State and Federal levels advocating for and representing your small businesses and fighting for equitable access to capital, commercial rent relief, replenishing grant programs and sharing perspective on meaningful policy action.
6.- Working with the Governor’s office and OHA to deploy $10K in small business gift card incentives to encourage people to get vaccinated.
7.- Delivering timely learning sessions and panel discussions to help improve your efforts, efficiencies and impact to your bottom line.
8.- Conducting surveys and sharing easy to digest infographic data on the health of our small business community. We share these with policy makers and with you so you know where you stand in relation to your peers, noting the ever changing environment and realities of conducting business in these times. Next survey out next week.
9.- Bringing Small Businesses together for the Small Shops Big Hearts holiday campaign that included robust paid social media, 5 billboards around the city, OPB radio ads, support from Travel Portland, Venture Portland and our hotels. We surveyed participating businesses and have learned a lot about how and why it worked very well for many and what needs to happen to make it work well for everyone, which will inform our focus for professional development offerings in 2022. Stay tuned for our upcoming series of events.
10.- Conducted coaching sessions in group and one on one to provide ongoing support and experienced perspectives to your businesses. We’ve learned a lot and as a membership organization we’re accountable only to you and your small businesses. As a member driven organization, we are more swift and agile and that’s how we are effective in moving the needle for this community. All of this work was made possible by everyone who chips in as a Bricks Need Mortar member to be in community to strengthen our ecosystem of brick and mortar businesses.
We’ve learned a lot and as a membership organization we’re accountable only to you and your small businesses. As a member driven organization we are more swift and agile and that’s how we are effective in moving the needle for this community. All of this work was made possible by everyone who chips in as a Bricks Need Mortar member to be in community to strengthen our ecosystem of brick and mortar businesses.
Today we’re sharing feedback on The PDXSOS Portland Pledge Holiday Campaign.
The Portland Pledge was created to send a strong and loud message to shop small and local, even when shopping from home.
We are building on The Portland Pledge all year around!
This Thursday we will be launching our partnership with Think NW (formerly The Portland Advertising Federation), to provide pro bono marketing coaching to our members. Additionally, we’re working with Think NW on a fund available to our members to cover professional brand and marketing services.
Business Oregon is making $100M in grants available to address unpaid commercial rents. The program will open for applications on March 8, 2021. The application portal will be open for two weeks, and all eligible applications received will be put into a lottery selection system to determine which will move on for grant approval.
The application process will require both the tenant and the landlord to contribute and sign documents. The landlord will complete the initial online application.
If you have deferred payments due to your landlord, we encourage you to contact your landlord now with plans to apply. Please contact us if you are needing assistance in moving forward with your landlord and your application.
More information can be found at this link. Applications will open March 8th at the same link.
Bricks Need Mortar fights for equitable and sensible commercial rent relief and real estate reform. Check out Bricks Need Mortar founder Sarah Shaoul’s recent op-ed in The Portland Business Journal. The piece is copied below for those who are unable to access the paywall. Please also see urgent action for Tuesday’s hearing on the extension of the commercial rent repayment deadline beyond March 31st.
“In this pandemic, I have spent the greater part of my year advising and helping small brick and mortar commercial tenants renegotiate their leases. I’ve met with landlords who have made the calculations and chose to work with their tenants by accepting a percentage of sales, forgiving rent, or sharing the economic burden of the pandemic with their tenants in some way. But for many tenants, the greatest challenge is longstanding real estate law and the personal guarantee in their commercial lease.
A great majority of commercial leases require a Personal Guarantee, which states that a tenant is responsible for the full rent for the lease term, regardless of viruses and other impediments to conducting business. Let’s say an owner opened a restaurant last March with a five-year lease for which they paid $4,000 a month in base rent. If they found themselves ineligible for PPP, they would have exhausted their start-up funds in their first six months with virtually no revenue, putting them on the hook for $240,000 plus NNN and the landlord’s operating expenses, which often include taxes, property insurance, and common area maintenance.
And while there are landlords exercising great ethical responsibility by sharing the burden, there are those landlords who shame, intimidate, and refuse to negotiate with their tenants because the personal guarantee means there’s nothing to bring to the table to negotiate with tenants.
With mandated closures and even the eviction moratorium, landlords are to be paid in full by March 31, 2021, or their tenants can be evicted. Legislators are focused on making the landlords and the banks who hold their mortgages whole. PPP helps with wages, rent and other expenses, but what about that lost revenue?
Even if Federal relief reimburses or addresses, say, 18 months of rent for commercial tenants, the landlords will be made whole. But how will our small businesses recover 18 months of significantly reduced revenue? We can waive or pay their rent, but they will never recover the lost revenue that occurred due to closures and significantly decreased capacity.
Here’s what we need: 1- We need a cap on the Personal Guarantee to bring tenants and their landlords to the table to share the burden of this crisis with our small businesses. 2- We need federal relief that fully covers the rents of small businesses that have experienced a 25%-plus decline from March 2020 until we achieve herd immunity through vaccinations. 3- We need Covid specific bankruptcy protection that will allow small businesses the ability to close without the threat of losses of any personal assets. 4- We need greater access to capital for people of color and more opportunities for BIPOC and women to qualify for commercial property loans. 5- We need to prioritize incentives and tax breaks for small businesses, our job creators, alongside, or better yet, before, tax abatements and credits to developers and property owners. 6- Sensible and equitable real estate law reform.
Back to the recent snowstorm. In that key weekend, many businesses weathered significant losses and declines in revenue because they simply didn’t have staff who could walk to work.
If we look at this economic recovery as an opportunity to address social and economic disparities, we must put in place instruments that help us move beyond opportunity hoarding, including imbalanced real estate law.”