Bringing in business on foot

Shoppers walking by stores


Scott Jagow: Is your city "walkable"? The website rates cities and neighborhoods on how easy it is to walk from your home to restaurants, grocery stores and libraries. San Francisco comes out on top.

We wondered how much better businesses do in walkable towns. Mitchell Hartman reports from the tenth most walkable city, Portland, Oregon.

Mitchell Hartman: Portland's downtown Pearl District gets an almost perfect score. Streets are narrow, sidewalks are wide, there's lots of street-level retail.

Erich Wiernasz and Erin Heath are visiting from Boston.

Erich Wiernasz: We've been here for a day and already we're getting around pretty easily.

Erin Heath It doesn't take very long to get anywhere. Someone will tell us, go 10 blocks if you want to find this store or whatever and we're noticing that 10 blocks is like nothing.

Nearby in Chinatown, Christopher Yarrow has a shop selling home furnishings and nick nacks from Southeast Asia.

Christopher Yarrow: There's a combination of street traffic and also public transportation has a big effect. When people come down here or they walk into my store, I generally find that they're looking for an experience.

Yarrow's happy experience-seeking shoppers can mosey in on foot, but there's a downside. Portland's been planned to discourage driving and there's not much parking, so Yarrow knows he's losing some potential customers to the not-very-walkable suburban mall.

In Portland, I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.


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