Apartment complex launches ‘coupon passport’ to boost local business

The coupon books are free for both businesses and customer

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Like many of us, one Southeast Portland apartment complex, hates seeing businesses close for good as the pandemic and vandalism take their toll — so now they’re doing something about it.

The Meetinghouse Apartments in the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood has collaborated with the Sellwood Moreland Business Alliance to launch what they’re calling a “coupon passport” to help support neighborhood businesses. The passport is packed with all sorts of deals just in time for the holidays.

Currently, more than 20 neighboring businesses have joined the program. A few of the shops include Sellwood Pet Supply, Blue Kangaroo Coffee Roaster and Fat Albert’s Breakfast Cafe. One example of a good deal is the one you can get at Zenbu Lounge — where they’re offering $10 off sushi. Another deal even includes a free skating class at Oaks Park when the freeze lifts!

“As someone who lives and works in this neighborhood, we all truly know how important each and
every business is to the fabric of the community and there’s a lot of mutual love and appreciation,” Beacon Acupuncture Owner Laura Goff said. “My business has been affected by the downturn,
but I’ve never questioned how much I’m appreciated.”

The coupon books are free for both businesses and customers. Sign up for your Meetinghouse Passport online here.

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Maine’s lobstermen and women hope Biden can boost fortunes

This may be the week when most Americans are gobbling turkey at Thanksgiving, but Maine’s lobstermen and women are looking ahead to 2021 and figure they might get on a roll with Joe Biden.

a group of people on a boat in the water: Photograph: Robert F Bukaty/AP

© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Robert F Bukaty/AP

Donald Trump positioned himself as a friend of New England’s lobster industry, campaigning hard in Maine, and even had lobsterman Jason Joyce speak at the Republican national convention.

But the president’s prolonged trade war with China resulted in a rocky few years for the industry.

Following Biden’s win in the presidential election, which saw him take three out of four electoral votes in Maine, which, along with Nebraska, has a split system, members of the industry now say they are looking forward to some much-needed stability.

Stephanie Nadeau, owner of the Lobster Company, a dealer in Arundel, Maine, said the industry needs assurance that it will be able to sell lobsters to other countries without punitive tariffs and is hopeful that such comfort will come in January following the inauguration of the Democratic president-elect.

a group of people on a boat in the water: A sternman, right, checks a lobster while fishing off South Portland, Maine, in September.

© Photograph: Robert F Bukaty/AP
A sternman, right, checks a lobster while fishing off South Portland, Maine, in September.

She said of life under the Trump administration: “You can’t plan. You can’t live in chaos. The trade war, was it going to last a week, was it going to last a month, was it going to last four years? How do you operate around that?”


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US lobster exports to China, a major buyer of seafood, tumbled after the Trump escalated trade hostilities. That led to heavy tariffs on US lobsters, and exporters saw a drop of more than 80% in the first half of 2019.

This summer, Trump directed the US Department of Agriculture to provide lobster fishermen with financial assistance and help them claw back lost income from the Chinese tariffs. He also brokered a new deal with China, which agreed to start buying US lobster again.

It was a turbulent time for an industry that’s already used to dealing with uncertainty because of issues such as the fluctuating volume of catch, dangerous weather and the changing prices of bait and fuel.

All with the undercurrent of the climate crisis that’s warming ocean waters and disrupting sea life and, in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic.

Related: ‘We have no market, but lots of lobsters’: a Maine lobsterwoman fights for her livelihood

Biden’s impending presidency represents a chance at steadiness, said John Sackton, a longtime industry analyst and founder of SeafoodNews.com.

“I think Biden, by taking people back to more normalcy and tackling the virus, could potentially put things back to normal, which would be very favourable for the US industry,” he said. “Chaos is the enemy of the lobster industry.”

The Trump administration also boasted of environmental policies that it said benefited lobstermen.

In June, Trump announced a rollback of protections at Northeast Canyons and Seamounts marine national monument, a 5,000-square-mile conservation area that he reopened to commercial fishing.

He characterized

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With more Mainers shopping locally, small businesses see holiday boost

Black Friday deal-seekers can rest after their big dinner on Thanksgiving this year rather than rush out to be first in line when their favorite store opens after midnight on Friday.

State and national health officials have urged people to keep holiday celebrations small and close to home as the coronavirus spreads quickly in Maine and across the country. One side effect of that is helping small businesses here as shoppers flock online, pick up curbside and look to support local businesses and Maine-made goods.

“There’s been a silver lining through all of this because even smaller retailers have made some necessary investments in technology to make online shopping easier for their customers,” Curtis Picard, president and CEO of the Retail Association of Maine, said.

The trifecta of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday this weekend marks the traditional start to the holiday season and the time when retailers make most of their annual sales. But the season is likely to be more spread out this year as larger retailers including Walmart are promoting early Black Friday deals and encouraging online sales.

In Maine, Reny’s ran early bird specials all day instead of in the early morning hours to help prevent lines and kick off holiday sales early. Picard said his organization has been encouraging efforts to drive early sales and minimize crowds to keep in-person shopping safe.

The National Retail Federation predicts a surprisingly strong end to a sales year marred by the pandemic. It is forecasting that holiday sales during November and December will increase as much as 5 percent to $767 billion compared to last year. The industry group expects the online portion of those sales to increase by 20 percent over last year. Some of the bump could come from people saving money amid the pandemic.

Christina Benoit, creative director at Benoit’s Design, a Westbrook home decor, gifts and apparel store that she co-founded with her husband Greg in 2014, expects higher revenues this year than last, saying customers are “really focused on buying local this year.”

The 1,000-square-foot store, which allows five customers in at a time to honor the state’s coronavirus restrictions, employs four people. Benoit said during the downtime when virus restrictions forced the store to close temporarily, she and her husband were able to add new products and focus on the best way to present them online.

“We know that’s going to be the major way people are shopping this year,” she said, adding that the store has quadrupled online business this year.

Like Benoit, Lisa-Marie’s Made in Maine, a home, fashion and pet accessories store with locations in Bath and Portland, doubled down on e-commerce when its physical stores had to close at the beginning of the pandemic. Most of the time people ordering online are buying for themselves and picking up items curbside.

“But I noticed on our website a couple of weeks ago that over half of the people are shipping packages to different addresses, which means

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