The signs are posted on front doors and windows next to Help Wanted signs, event posters and liquor license notices.
But these statements outside many Northwest Portland businesses stand out. Installed after November’s presidential election, they are signs of the times.
“Standing with Muslims,” reads one.
“We welcome all races, religions, countries of origin, sexual orientations, genders,” announces another.
“Love wins. Black lives matter. Immigrants and refugees are welcome,” a third confirms.
And someone used a marker to simply write “PDX Pride” in the window of a bar.
Owners and employees say the posters are apolitical, but they signal something significant about the current meaning of business as usual.
Notably, all Northwest Portland businesses displaying the signs are locally owned.
Patricia Zanger, owner of Bonnet, might have been the first in the district to put her values up front.
After the election, Zanger was beset by customers opining “about how great it was going to be with [President Donald] Trump” in office.
That made her uncomfortable—unable to leave and not wanting to offend while having to listen to views “you feel so strongly against.”
When she learned about the “In our America” posters, which are designed and made in Portland (nwgsdpdx.org), she jumped on it. She has sold more than 300 yard signs ($10) and posters ($3), and many more people have dropped in to express appreciation for her stand.
All money collected goes to Nasty Women Get Shit Done, which distributes them to 10 local organizations judged likely to “suffer under the new administration,” including Lutheran Community Services Northwest’s Emergency Housing Fund, CAUSA (supporting Latino immigrants), Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform and TAP, a transgender support organization.
“If you can’t express yourself as a businessperson,” Zanger asked, “what’s the use in being in business?”
Here are the stories behind the signs at 8 other Nob Hill businesses:
“Open to Everyone: We Don’t Discriminate,” reads the notice at Pacific Pie.
“I told [the owner] that we want signs that we include everyone, because of the times,” said employee Ky Kallam, 21.
The unwritten rule of bars, said TJ Farris, 38, co-owner of Lightning Will Bar & Grill, is you don’t mix politics with alcohol. But the November election was “one of the scarier days I’ve worked,” Farris said, so he put a sign up “to ease tension.”
“Everything’s going to be OK,” he said. “We’re going to get through this.”
Farris said there have been no negative reactions to the sign.
A bartender at Joe’s Cellar who declined to share her name said she thought a former waitress scrawled “PDX Pride” with a heart on a window.
“It hasn’t been there long,” she said.
“We’ve had lots of positive reactions, people asking where they can get one,” said Emily Noren, 31, of the sign at Float Shoppe spa. She said the sign is meant to help create a safe belonging space.
“I notice that white people in power do not put those signs up,” said Cali Avila, an employee of ClogsN-More.
Avila said the sign on the front door—“Standing With Muslims Against Islamophobia & Racism”—inspired her to apply for her job.
“People who’ve struggled put those signs up,” Avila said, noting the owner is Libyan.
The sign has brought a lot of positive reactions, she said.
Manager Mat Clune, 30, said Bishops Barbershop outshines a national chain he used to work for.
“I’m glad to work for a company where if someone comes in saying discriminatory things and we tell them to leave, my managers will support me,” Clune said. “It’s a statement of inclusivity, not a political statement.”
“It’s essential,” said Hannah Johnson, 25, at Tender Loving Empire. “This is the least that you can do in light of what happened with the stabbings, and the general political climate.”
Johnson said inclusivity is “part of our branding,” something people patrons expect of the company.
“It’s an important statement to make right now,” said Sloan Boutique owner Karalee Whitehouse, 45, of her sign, which she put up after the election.
For Whitehouse, it’s a reflection of the way Sloan has always done business. Not everyone in the neighborhood feels the same, she said.
“I think the fancier the restaurant, the less they want to put that kind of paper in their window,” she said.