‘Passport’ provides prizes to Sellwood-Westmoreland visitors

Other merchant associations could take a page from this organization’s book. See why, right here …

Event chair Debbe Hamada (formerly director of East Portland Community Center) at her store, Tilde, says she enjoys creating events that bring the community together.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When 100 merchants, members of the recently-expanded Sellwood-Westmoreland Business Alliance, agreed to participate in this August 9 event, they hoped it would draw folks to their businesses – and indeed, everyone came out a winner.

“We call it ‘Passport to Sellwood and Westmoreland – Celebrate the Summer,” explained Debbe Hamada, owner of a modern lifestyles accessory store in Sellwood called “Tilde”, and credited as being the prime mover behind the event.

Brent Heeb, proprietor of Stars Antique Mall and Stars & Splendid says the Passport event is perfect for businesses in the neighborhood.

“We want people to come here and have a good time,” Hamada said. “And I think it’s a great thing to do for the neighborhood. While we attract some visitors from around the greater Portland area, we’re primarily providing a fun event so our neighbors can have a great time.”

The idea was, Hamada said, that visitors would pick up a free “Passport” booklet, and take it around to participating merchants, each of whom marked it with a unique stamp. Having their booklet stamped at a minimum of six businesses qualified participants to win prize packages.

At one of the stops on the “Passport to Sellwood and Westmoreland” tour, Staccato Gelato, Annalee Schafranek stamps a passport.

Event expands as business districts unite
“This is the second year for this event in Sellwood,” Hamada said. “Last year, only stores on SE 13th Avenue participated. This year, with our two business districts united, we expanded it from 43 merchants to 108 merchants participating in both Sellwood and Westmoreland.”

Although Hamada is credited with creating and organizing the event, she said others have helped out. “Honestly, Brent Heeb worked equally as hard on this promotion.”

The Stumptown Swing trio enlivens SE 13th Avenue as they entertain in front of Grand Central Baking and Looking Glass Books.

Brings neighborhoods together
We next asked Brent Heeb, the proprietor of “Stars Antique Malls” and “Stars & Splendid” on SE Milwaukie Avenue for 18 years in Westmoreland, why he was enthusiastic about helping Hamada.

“I remember driving down 13th Avenue last year and seeing all the balloons,” Heeb replied. “It looked like there was a fun event happening. When our business districts joined, I met Debbe and learned about their ‘Passport’ event. Working on it has really brought our neighborhood business districts together.”

Folks said they came for miles around to peruse the offerings of merchants in Sellwood and Westmoreland.

In addition to running his shops, Heeb said he’s also a Westmoreland resident. “We have a real neighborhood here. We were ‘green’ and on foot before the concept became fashionable. Anytime we can support and promote our neighborhoods, it benefits everyone.”

Look for another area-wide promotion in Sellwood and Westmoreland in December; for more information check the business district’s web site: CLICK HERE. NOTE: our site was hacked – rest assured, the original link shown was redirected.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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