Directed by Matthew Winthrop
Produced and Edited by New Sky Productions
More and more, individuals in Portland are looking to food carts as an inexpensive alternative to starting up a restaurant. Even with the lower start-up costs, however, food cart owners often need help getting the capital to start up. Mercy Corps Northwest is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs like these. We believe in supporting our local food industry, our local business owners, and in finding creative approaches to business and employment in a recession.
<excerpted from The Oregonion>
A major quandary facing planners and economic developers is how to help talented young creative types who’ve moved to Portland for its laid-back, artsy feel make money at the same time they’re making stuff.
Cassie Ridgway is only 23, a couple of months removed from earning a degree in poetry — not the most practical specialty when it comes to monetizing your work — at Portland State. Yet she’s come up with a model that could be as good as anything the professional big thinkers have found so far.
Her new store, Mag-Big, sells art, like a lot of boutiques. But unlike many others, Mag-Big sells nothing but Portland art. Dresses. Vases. Paintings. Soap. Wood carvings. Purses. Mosaics. Earrings. Potholders. Plush dolls. Ski caps. Aprons. Whatever local craftspeople make, she sells out of a historic Hawthorne Boulevard house split between Mag-Big and three other businesses. Artists can rent shelf space or sell by consignment.
Will the venture, open since October, work? We should all hope so. Part of what makes Portland special is the influx of creative talent the city has seen in the past decade. But making a living producing art is a constant scramble for all but the most successful and renowned. Portland’s push to become a hub for artists won’t matter — and will eventually peter out — if those creative people cannot afford to buy a house or raise children here. Scoff at the do-it-yourself crowd if you want, but we need their talents and their tax dollars…
…Inspired by memories of a family friend’s beach side shop in California, she wrote a business plan while finishing up coursework at PSU and waiting tables full time. She found the spot at the corner of Hawthorne and Southeast 33rd Avenue during the first rehab walk she took after getting hit by a car on her bike last summer. She went to banks, the Small Business Administration, credit unions and a seed-capital group. She has a great credit rating, but nobody was exactly leaping over the desk to loan cash to a young poet/artist until she got to MercyCorps Northwest, a local arm of the Portland-based nonprofit that provides microloans for entrepreneurs who can’t borrow from traditional banks…