'Little box' stores create new holiday shopping tradition

'Little box' stores create new holiday shopping tradition »Play Video

Black Friday for Elias Williams of North Portland means a walk to a neighborhood store with his sister and grandmother.

"Well, since I 'm only 7, I like the toys," said Williams.

He found them at SpielWerk, a "little box" toy store in the Mississippi neighborhood.

But even at that age, Williams realizes that going to a big box store would be much different.

"I'd have to get in the car to go to Toys 'R' Us, find a parking spot, then go in," he said, "Then, like, if you were going to buy something, the line would be much longer."

That's what his grandmother, Pat Nichelson, would like to avoid.  "I don't need crazy," she said. 

That's the goal of the Little Boxes event and stores like Spielwerk owned by Stacee Wion: relaxed, comfortable, personal and local.

About 200 small stores are working together for this special event on Black Friday and Saturday.  Customers can grab a "passport" from stores participating in Little Boxes, get discounts and enter to win prizes like a trip to Hawaii and an iPad.

 "I see smiles on children's faces and I see smiles on parents on parents' faces and that makes me feel good," said Wion. "There's no room for craze."

The owner of Ink and Peat, Pam Zsori, said Little Boxes started three years ago and has increased her business significantly over the holiday weekend.

Zsori said the project gives small businesses competing with the big box stores a voice in the marketplace. She added that small stores are important and shopping at the little box stores is an investment in your neighborhoods.

"I hope they'll have just great fun doing it," she said about shoppers coming to the Little Boxes event. "And also realize they're helping support small shops in the community because then they'll stay open. All the diversity that we bring to the marketplace, they can enjoy and will have for years to come by doing that."