Smoky weather clouds downtown PDX businesses

Photo: Rachel Ramirez
A sign outside the Gray Line Sight Seeing booth stating operations to Multnomah Falls and Columbia River Gorge have been canceled.

Falling ash and poor air quality meant there were fewer people than usual on the streets of downtown Portland.

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To gauge the business impacts, I spent an hour this morning walking a 10-block stretch of Southwest Broadway, starting from our offices on the corner of Southwest Morrison.

Reaction was mixed. Some retail and café employees said the weather hadn’t impacted operations, while others saw a slow down. A few shops closed early yesterday.

 “We haven’t been getting as much business than usual these past couple days,” a clerk from The Spice and Tea Exchange said. “Usually, this week is better because it’s towards the end of summer.”

Photo: Rachel Ramirez  Nordstrom Espressor Bar

The Espresso Bar outside Nordstrom shuttered early yesterday because ash had blanketed the store’s bagels and pastries, one of the baristas said.  Plus, the manager didn’t want employees breathing bad air.

Photo: Rachel Ramirez Manager David Duncun

Across from the espresso bar, at the Gray Line Pink Trolley sightseeing booth, manager David Duncan was on duty today — but only to let people know the tour company had temporarily suspended operations.


Construction workers said they were working round the clock. I spoke with a Willamette Glass Co. employee who lives in Troutdale, a few miles from the Gorge. He has asthma, but endures the smoke-filled air “to make a living,” he said.

The employee said he was encouraged to wear a mask but declined. “Wearing them felt really uncomfortable,” he said.

Gigi’s Salon and Spa were fully booked yesterday, employees said. Several cafes, including Public Domain, St. Honore Bakery and Cacao, said they didn’t see any change in  the number of customers coming in.  

Rachel Ramirez is an Oregon Business intern.