With national surveys showing nearly 85 percent of small businesses have been negatively impacted by the ongoing COVID-19, many small business advocates are hoping shoppers will consider supporting small, locally owned businesses this holiday shopping season.
“We know 88 percent of U.S. consumers feel a personal commitment to support small businesses in the wake of the pandemic. Whether online, curbside or safely in store, we’re reminding consumers that they can help make an impact by shopping small and sharing their favorite small businesses on social media all holiday season long,” Elizabeth Rutledge, American Express’s chief marketing officer, recently stated in a press release about the credit card company’s annual Small Business Saturday event.
“Small Business Saturday is an important part of our global Shop Small campaign, and small businesses need our support more than ever as they continue to navigate the effects of COVID-19,” Rutledge said.
Several downtown Camas businesses are gearing up for the annual “Little Box Friday” and “Small Business Saturday” shopping events that follow the Thanksgiving holiday and kick-off the winter holiday season of gift-giving.
“This year’s celebration is the 11th annual Small Business Saturday, marking over a decade of support from American Express for local business owners,” the Downtown Camas Association recently noted. “Since it started in 2010, consumers have reported spending an estimated $122.6 billion across all Small Business Saturdays combined … That’s $122.6 billion toward helping communities thrive, spent over just 10 days.”
The DCA will host its Little Box Friday on Nov. 27, the day after Thanksgiving. While the traditional “Black Friday” shopping event typically features sales at “big box,” national chain stores, Camas’ Little Box Friday is “a celebration of the joy of shopping locally,” the DCA said. Participating merchants will have a “little box” of coupons, specials and gifts.
“Choosing to spend locally means the world to downtown,” the DCA recently stated on its website, downtowncamas.com, “Our hardworking businesses are open as they are able and following all current state safety guidelines to keep everyone safe, including social distancing, cleaning and sanitizing, wearing masks, staying home when sick and (implementing) clear face-covering requirements (for customers).”
The Little Box Friday event on Nov. 27 also kicks off the annual “Golden Ticket” event, which runs through Dec. 18. Shoppers will receive a “Golden Ticket” from participating merchants with every purchase. Shoppers can win prizes from the merchant where they received the Golden Ticket, as well as be entered into the grand prize raffle to win a $250 downtown Camas shopping spree, courtesy of local real estate broker Carla Edwards.
Additionally, shoppers who spend $100 in participating downtown businesses on Friday, Nov. 27, can bring their receipts to the Liberty Theatre between noon and 3 p.m. that day to receive two free movie tickets.
The “Small Business Saturday” event on Nov. 28 will include a variety of specials at participating businesses, as well as free “Shop Small” bags and merchandise while supplies last.
Participating businesses include 4Ever Growing Kids, Allure Boutique, Arktana, Caffe Piccolo, Cake Happy, Camas Antiques, Camas Bike and Sport, Juxtaposition, Navidi’s Olive Oils & Vinegars, Papermaker Pride, Sass Beauty and The Soap Chest.
For more information about the Little Box Friday or Shop Small Saturday events in Camas, visit downtowncamas.org.
Local artists gear up for inaugural Artists Sunday event
Shoppers can continue to support local business owners and artists on Sunday, Nov. 29, during this year’s inaugural Artists Sunday event.
A new effort spearheaded by more than 3,500 artists, local art agencies, cities, counties and states nationwide, Artists Sunday is meant to encourage consumers to shop with their favorite local artists and craftspeople during the holiday season.
The Clark County Arts Commission, an 11-member arts advocacy commission with representatives from throughout the county, including in Camas and Washougal, as well as Artstra, a Vancouver-based arts advocacy organization, recently joined with the Artists Sunday alliance to promote local Clark County artisans and craftspeople this holiday season.
“This year has been challenging for everybody, especially artists,” said Washougal artist Kathy Marty. “I hope (Artists Sunday) generates interest and awareness. I know there are people in our community who make a point of supporting local artists.”
Marty, a weaver who crafts colorful art rugs using cotton and wool scraps known as “selvage” from the Pendleton Woolen Mills, said she hopes the new event will catch on in the same way Shop Small Saturday and “Cyber Monday,” which promotes online sales, have reached shoppers looking for deals in the days following Thanksgiving.
The Washougal artist said she likes the way the Artists Sunday website, at ArtistsSunday.com, has created a searchable index for shoppers hoping to support artists from a certain region.
“I like the fact that this is national, a nationwide movement, but that you can also search online by state, by town and by medium,” Marty said. “If you’re thinking about buying a rug (made by a Washington artist), it will take you to those people.”
To find local artists participating in the Artists Sunday event, visit ArtistsSunday.com. Following are five of the Camas-Washougal artists taking part in the shopping event on Sunday, Nov. 29.
Shirley Bishop, Washougal glass artist
Bishop, a Portland native with more than 30 years of professional experience in the interior design industry who returned to her love of glass art in 2013 after a Camas art festival visit prompted her to take a fused-glass class, opened a spacious art studio/teaching facility in December 2018.
The studio is located in a light-filled building on Bishop and her husband, John’s, 20-acre property off Southeast Third Circle, a couple miles southwest of the scenic Washougal River Road.
Bishop told the Post-Record in 2019 that she fell in love with fused glass art almost immediately.
“When I was young, I never thought I had any artistic ability. But then, I discovered stained glass in high school,” she said. “My volleyball coach was teaching it, so I took the class and found that I loved working with glass. I loved the colors and the patterns.”
Bishop has branched out since reconnecting with glass art in 2013, taking classes on the Washington coast to learn more about creating landscapes that look like paintings crafted out of glass, and figuring out how to transfer photos onto pieces of glass art to craft unique and sentimental pieces for weddings, graduations and other life celebrations or remembrances.
Unlike many artists who have found they have much more free time during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bishop has been working full-time at her regular sales job since the pandemic began, and only very recently found the time to return to her glass work.
When she got the call to participate in a pared-down version of the Washougal Studio Artists Tour, which this year featured a self-directed tour of seven Camas-Washougal artists’ studios, Bishop thought, “Why not?”
“I usually have an open studio anyway, and I thought, ‘I would love to make ornaments and have some customers,’” she said.
The event, which took place Nov. 14-15, brought in far fewer people than her open studios normally do, but she still made more money, Bishop said.
“I was shocked that I made as much money as I did,” she said. “Normally (pre-pandemic), I would have about 100 people come through. This year, there were 33 people, but almost everybody bought something. The people there were on a mission. They weren’t just passing by a sign showing there was an open studio.”
Bishop is still teaching very small groups of students in her studio on the weekends, with strict COVID-19 precautions, including required face coverings and physical distancing, in place. She also has limited the class size to four and does not allow separate households to sign up for the same class to further increase the safety precautions.
She plans to have a few new pieces, including her glass holiday ornaments, on her website in time for the Artists Sunday event, and said that, although she doesn’t rely on her artwork as her main source of income, she is always pleased when people connect with something she’s created.
“Sometimes I look at my husband and say, ‘Why am I doing this?’ and he says, ‘You do it because you love doing it. You love your art and you want to share it. You helping to make the world a more beautiful place.’” Bishop said. “He reminds me that it’s not about the money. It’s about loving the art.”
India de Landa, Camas jewelry artist
Contemporary jewelry artist India de Landa moved to Camas from Texas in January, just two months before the pandemic shut down businesses and events throughout the community.
“When I lived in Texas, I was selling my jewelry at the Art Museum of South Texas and the Art Center of Corpus Christi and doing a few shows here and there,” de Landa said. “Now it’s all online.”
She met up with a group of local artists before the pandemic, including Marty, and they encouraged her to build her own website, de Landa said.
“I had to figure it all out. My computer skills have definitely improved, but it’s difficult to be found online,” de Landa said. “I’m selling but it’s slow going because of the pandemic. And I’m not sure selling art on the internet is the easiest thing to do. People want to see the item and get a sense of the size and color and, with jewelry, how it fits them. It’s challenging.”
For people who are looking for a unique, colorful, bold piece of jewelry, de Landa may have exactly what they’re searching for.
“I’ve never liked gold or precious gems,” de Landa said. “I like working with something brighter, bolder. And I love plastic. It is kind of hard to work with, you have to have a jeweler’s saw and you have to file it and sand it to smooth it out, but it’s fun.”
The Camas artist describes her current style as “minimalist, modern and fun to wear.”
“I design and create lightweight, contemporary, modernist jewelry using plexiglass and aluminum,” de Landa states on her website. “My jewelry is bold yet elegant, with inspiration coming from abstract artists Mondrian, Kandinsky, Klimt and Herbin. My goal is to create art for those who want to make a statement.”
Tamara Dinius, Washougal mixed-media artist
Washougal mixed-media artist Tamara Dinius is feeling the impact of an eight-month-long pandemic that has shutdown social gatherings.
“Honestly, it’s a little stifling for me,” said Dinius, who shows her art on her website, WomenWineAndWords.com. “I love the energy of other people.”
Normally, Dinius would have been traveling throughout the Pacific Northwest and California, going to art shows and meeting up with new and old friends.
“Every show has gone away, so it’s like working in a vacuum,” Dinius said. “It’s like you’re a football player and you have to stand on the sidelines.”
Like many artists, Dinius has taken comfort online, meeting with her closest artist friends on Zoom.
“We have wine and share ideas and critique each other’s (art),” Dinius said. “It’s not the same, but it’s something I’m glad we have.”
Dinius said she has struggled a bit during the pandemic.
“I’m an in-person individual, so when there’s no one to connect with, I struggle,” she said. “Even my art has changed. They’re a little bit darker. Visually darker. I think I seem to struggle a little bit more finding peace in what I’m doing.”
A Washougal native who grew up influenced by the 1980s arts and crafts store her parents owned in Washougal, Dinius said she has always loved the smell of oil paints and was always drawn to art, but her career took her into the world of finance and away from her creative side for a while.
When she left her job in 2012, Dinius started painting again.
“It was so different from anything I’d ever done before,” she said. “Things started to sell and my customers led.”
Dinius has now created more than 30,000 greeting cards and 25,000 magnets, wrote a book and sold countless prints.
Now 63 with two grown daughters she considers close friends, Dinius said she is getting excited by the prospect of attending art shows again.
“I don’t really think they’ll come back until we have the vaccine well distributed … but I’m excited to get the shows back,” Dinius said. “My blog has been a silver lining. It’s sort of where I can connect a little bit more with people. I enjoy reaching people online and helping them find art.”
Dinius said she loves the concept of having an Artists Sunday event to promote buying from local artists and craftspeople this holiday season.
“There are so many artists out there. And you may not be seeing them at local art shows anymore,” Dinius said. “I think it’s brilliant that they’re doing this, and I’m super excited about it. Because art does impact our lives.”
Kathy Marty, Washougal weaver
An artist since her college days, Marty moved with her husband, Tim Tully, and two children to a five-acre plot in Washougal in 2004, and fell in love with the area. She founded Camp Windy Hill and, until the pandemic forced her to close, offered week-long summer camps on her property overlooking the Columbia River Gorge for a decade.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a “triple whammy,” for her livelihood, Marty said.
“I went back to subbing last year for the Washougal School District. Then, in March, schools closed,” Marty explained. “Then, all of the summer (art) shows were canceled and I had to cancel my summer camps.”
Marty discovered her love of weaving after meeting Barbara Quinn at the Two Rivers Heritage Museum in Washougal. Quinn was working on a loom at the museum and Marty asked if she could help.
“I hadn’t woven for 35 years, but found myself asking, ‘Do you need a volunteer?’” Marty told the Post-Record in 2019. “I was a little rusty at first, working with the loom. It reminded me of my college days. But I was so taken with the beauty of the Pendleton selvage. I just loved the color and the textures.”
Quinn eventually gifted a loom to Marty.
“She passed away about a month after she gave it to me, so I think of her when I weave,” Marty said of Quinn. “She was a weaver and spinner and was one of the people who helped put the old loom at the museum together.”
In her home weaving studio, Marty now crafts the eco-friendly rugs using the same cotton and wool Pendleton selvage Quinn used at the museum.
With her art shows and summer camps canceled, Marty said she took the summer to pull together a new website.
“That was mentally challenging,” Marty said. “Almost everyone I know in the arts railed against the thought that you have to spend half your time on social media … but I’m happy with the website. I love the look of it.”
She promotes her business through social media, including Facebook and Instagram, and said the expanded world of customers has provided her with a few sales — as well as some pretty good stories.
“One of the most wonderful things that happened, happened in the last month,” Marty said, describing a sale she made to a grandmother whose granddaughters had lost nearly everything they owned — including two Pendleton blankets their grandmother had gifted them years earlier — in the wildfire that swept through Talent, Oregon, in September.
“One of the girls also had a rug that she loved, which was burned,” Marty said. “So the grandma decided to help her granddaughters put a little bit of their lives together.”
She found the discontinued blankets online and then contacted Marty to create a matching rug. The two sent photos back and forth and collaborated on the perfect rug, Marty said. “I sent her pictures as I was weaving the rug, and took a picture of her holding the blanket and rug when we met in a New Seasons parking lot. Seeing that picture is so heartening. I had to share it on Facebook.”
Toni McCarthy, Camas jewelry artist
Camas jewelry artist Toni McCarthy has been creating unique, bold statement pieces for 25 years and describes her dramatic beadwork as “jewelry women buy for themselves.”
The former Evergreen School District teacher has always loved chatting with customers and fellow artists at in-person art festivals, but said she — like many local artists — hasn’t been to a show since the pandemic started in March.
“The last show was at the Black Pearl (in Washougal) in February,” McCarthy said. “There’s been nothing since then.”
The lack of in-person shows has not put a damper on her creative side, though.
“I’m working on new things all the time,” McCarthy said. “I have not lost my creative spirit at all.”
Having created a new website months before the pandemic began put McCarthy in a better position than many artists who relied solely on in-person sales, but she said she does need to work on promoting her jewelry on social media.
She is hoping the Artists Sunday event catches on and helps shoppers find local artists.
“I’ve made a strategy for the week,” McCarthy said. “I’m going to have a special for each of the four days: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Artists Sunday and Cyber Monday. I’ll have a special for each of those days and advertise them throughout the week.”
McCarthy said her jewelry is “not for the faint of heart.”
“I don’t do dainty. I don’t do subtle,” she said, laughing. “I have made a special effort to do a ‘happy colors’ series during the pandemic. Vibrant, fun colors are selling more than the metal jewelry right now.”
McCarthy agrees with her peers that many local artists are struggling during the pandemic.
“Everybody. Everybody is struggling,” she said. “It’s tough to get people to go to your website and it takes a certain amount of gumption to really work on it and do it everyday. It is very hard.”
That’s why she is hopeful that events like Artists Sunday will open people’s eyes to the number of unique gifts being made right here in Camas and Washougal.
To learn more about McCarthy and her jewelry, visit ToniMcCarthy.com.