Growth in Local, Innovative Coffee Subscription Company

Subscription services can bear a resemblance to the story of Goldilocks: Sometimes you end up with way too much of what you ordered, risking spoilage. Other times, you run out faster than planned. The answer, according to one company, is a scale” (Wallace, 1). 

Bottomless, a new Seattle upstart, created a coffee subscription company that makes the reordering process automatic and predicts the days you’ll need a new bag of beans to arrive at your door by using a smart scale to determine when you’re running low. The company knows exactly what you want, when you need it. 

After each use, coffee subscribers place their bag of beans on a wifi-enabled scale, sending data and analyses of consumption activity. The service includes the scale and starts at $5.99 per month with coffees that range from $12 to $20.

The pandemic resulted in a skyrocket of e-commerce purchases, increasing the demand for subscription and delivery-based services, therefore helping boost the coffee subscription company with more people stuck in their homes.

As of the week of Friday, October 23rd, Bottomless counted 6,000 customers. Last year around this time, their customers counted up to only 750. 

With COVID influencing the way people view technology and online services, the trend of buying products online has increased dramatically and will most likely continue for a few years.

“The company has come a long way since its inception in 2016 when Herrera and co-founder Michael Mayer — neither of whom had backgrounds in hardware development — conceptualized and invented the smart scale that would serve as Bottomless’ backbone. In true startup fashion, the duo bootstrapped the firm and spent the early days hand-soldering 3D-printed scales in their tiny apartment. They partnered with some roasters and signed up a couple hundred customers” (Wallace, 8)

At eighteen years old, Herrera emigrated from Peru without any knowledge of english at the time. She held different jobs until she was able to attend university in Portland, Oregon. Herrera grew up believing there was no other route to success other than hard work; She applied those lessons and skills she had learned during her upbringing to her career.

Bottomless received venture capital backing, business connections and mentorship after landing in the Winter 2019 cohort at Y Combinator, the legendary Silicon Valley startup accelerator. The company was able to afford their first manufacturing run earlier this year in which they said goodbye to handmade scales. 

“What has resulted is a “premiumization” of coffee purchases at retail and grocery stores, said Jim Watson, senior analyst for beverages research at Rabobank. People are spending more for whole bean coffee and pricier grounds, he said” (Wallace, 14). While grocery stores do carry a good selection of specialty and premium coffees, most of them are from global and national brands. With COVID-19, the importance of shopping local has been emphasized along with the opportunity to tap into local roasters.

Helping local businesses and being an online subscription service has worked out in the companies favor, but drastic economic shifts from the early part of the pandemic has caused instability in the finely-tuned system. 

In spring, some roasters experienced higher turnover after stark drop-offs in sales, so new employees had to be retrained on the Bottomless process. When the USPS timelines got rocky, Hererra and Mayer rebuilt their machine learning models. In addition to the shaky times COVID brought, existing customers that suffered from job loss were forced into cancelling their Bottomless subscription. 

Now, eight months into the pandemic, these aspects stabilized and the company is seeing steady growth in new customers and sales. “The activity is fueling optimism for a future where Bottomless could expand its technology into other product categories such as pet food and personal care” (Wallace, 19).

To find or subscribe to bottomless, click here.

 

Agent Website Photos-KristaThis blog post was written by Krista Pham, our intern.

The article that inspired this piece can be found, here.

4 Things to Consider Before Refinancing

 

Between politics and pandemics, mortgage rates have fallen and refinances have been booming with more room to expand. 

Close to 18 million homeowners could potentially cut their mortgage’s interest rate by 0.75% or more, according to mortgage analytics company, Black Knight. That surpasses the 3 million homeowners who refinanced the first half of 2020. 

Mortgage rates decreased to a record low territory this summer and fall. “The average interest rate on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has been under 3% since early September, according to NerdWallet’s daily rate survey” (Nerd Wallet, 3).

If you aren’t sure if now is the right time to refinance, ask yourself the following four questions.

 

1. What’s my goal?

What would you like to accomplish by refinancing? Identifying your goal for refinancing points you toward the right loan.

These are three common refinancing goals:

  • To reduce the monthly payment. For this refinance, it is quite simple Apply to a loan of the same term – another 30-year loan, if that’s what you have.
  • To pay less interest. When you refinance a 30-year mortgage into a loan with a shorter term, your monthly payments are likely to increase, but you’ll pay less interest over the duration of the loan. 
  •  To get cash. A cash-out refinance allows you to borrow more than you currently owe and take the difference in cash. Cash-out refinance is a common way to pay for home renovations.

 

2. Is my goal attainable?

Once you’ve identified your goal, figure out if it is realistic. 

If the goal is a smaller monthly payment, ask yourself how long you will remain in the home. The answer is important because when refinancing, you’ll lose money if you sell the home before reaching the break-even point. The reason for this is because when you refinance, you pay hundreds-thousands of dollars in closing costs. You want to keep the loan long enough for the savings to exceed the cost, which may take a few years. 

 

3. If the goal is to pay less interest, are the long-term savings worth the bigger payment?

If you shorten the loan term, you will most likely end up with an increased monthly payment. In case of a financial emergency, what will happen? Will you still be capable of making the monthly payment? If you have doubts, it may be safer for you to refinance for the same term as the current mortgage rather than a shorter one and pay extra principal each month. You will still have the benefit of paying it off more quickly, but you can stop making the excess payments when money is scarce. 

If the goal is to get cash: Do I have enough equity? In most cases, you’ll be able to borrow up to 80% of your home’s value, meaning that if you currently owe 70%, you will be able to cash 10% out of it. Determine your home’s current value and multiply it by 8% to determine the amount you’ll be able to borrow. Ask your lender how much you owe on the mortgage right now or check a recent statement. You’ll be able to cash out the difference between what you owe and 80% of the home’s value. 

How will the new refinancing fee affect me? Despite an adverse market refinance fee, the door remains open for refinancing. While frustrating, the fee on interest rates is too small to erase the savings that most would attain by refinancing. Fortunately, the adverse market refinance free doesn’t apply to every loan, only conventional mortgages. If you plan to refinance into a jumbo loan or a mortgage supported by the Federal Housing Administration, Department of Veteran Affairs, or the Department of Agriculture, the fee will not be imposed. Those loans accounted for about one-third of the mortgages taken in the second quarter of 2020. The other two-thirds were securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who imposed the raised interest rates on refinances by about one-eighth of a percentage point. Although, there are a few exceptions on the fees: The fee won’t be imposed on refinances of $125,000 or less, construction-to-permanent loans, or HomeReady and Home Possible mortgages, which have income limits.

The fee goes to Fannie and Freddie from the lender, and is unlikely to appear on your Loan Estimate paperwork; It is probably included in your interest rate. 

If you’re planning to refinance in order to reduce your monthly payment, the adverse market fee is important to acknowledge because the higher interest rate will push the break-even point back a few more months. 

When refinancing for a shorter term, the interest savings quickly overshadows the slight increase on rate.

If you’re attempting to go for a cash-out refinance, the goal is to get cash rather than saving money, so the fee does not impact your decision. 

 

4. Are there alternative ways to reach my goal?

While reducing your mortgage interest rate is great, there are other ways to attain your set goals if refinancing isn’t right for you.

  • To decrease your monthly house payment without refinancing, you could look for a less expensive homeowners insurance
  • If you are looking to pay less interest over time, you could pay extra principal monthly. By doing so, you could accelerate the payoff date, reducing the total interest paid on the loan.
  • Instead of a cash-out refinance, you could keep your mortgage and get a home equity line of credit or home equity loan. These loan products will most likely have higher interest rates than you can get with a cash-out refinance, but will still give the option of paying them off sooner than required.

 

After asking yourself these questions, you’ll be able to identify more confidently what decision is best for you. 

 

Agent Website Photos-KristaThis blog post was written by Krista Pham, our intern.

The article that inspired this piece can be found, here.

Puppy with Green Fur Born in Italy

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Pistachio the green dog. CRISTIAN MALLOCCI/VIA REUTERS

“An Italian farmer welcomed a litter of five dogs earlier this month – and one of the pups stood out among the rest. Cristian Mallocci couldn’t believe his eyes when one of them was born with green fur, Reuters reports.

Mallocci’s dog, Spelacchia, gave birth to four other dogs with white fur, the same color as her’s. Spelacchia is mixed-breed, but that doesn’t explain why one of her pups came out with green fur.

The strange pigmentation is believed to occur when pale puppies come in contact with biliverdin in their mother’s wound, according to Reuters. Biliverdin is also the pigment that makes bruises to sometimes appear green.

The dog, however, won’t always be green. The color will continually fade as the puppy grows and gets older, Reuters reports.

Still, Mallocci, who runs a farm on the island of Sardinia, promptly chose a fitting name for the green dog: Pistachio.

It is extremely rare for a dog to be born with green fur, but other pups like Pistachio have made headlines before. In 2017, when a green puppy was born in Massachusetts, a young boy with his own rare condition adopted him, CBS Boston reported.

Earlier this year, a green puppy was born outside of Asheville, North Carolina. The dog’s family appropriately named him The Hulk, CBS affiliate WNCN reported.

It paid off being the odd one out – the rest of Pistachio’s brothers and sisters will be given new homes, while Pisatchio will stay on the farm. Mallocci will train Pistachio to look after sheep, just like Spelacchia, Reuters reports.

Green is a symbol of luck and hope, so it may have been meant to be that the dog could make people smile amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Mallocci said.”

This article was written by Caitlin O’Kane and can be found, here.

What to Do About Halloween

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Photo by NeONBRAND

“Halloween in America looks extra terrifying this year.

Coronavirus cases are surging across the country for the third time, and the number of recorded cases in the U.S. just hit eight million. Seventeen states have added more cases in the past week than in any other week of the pandemic.

So is it safe to trick-or-treat? Is it safe to celebrate Halloween at all?

Public health experts have warned that going door-to-door for candy could lead to a spike in cases. Several states, including California and Massachusetts, have discouraged trick-or-treating but have not issued an outright ban.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued Halloween safety guidelines that classify traditional trick-or-treating as a high-risk activity, along with indoor haunted houses and crowded costume parties. For safer alternatives, the agency suggests holding costume contests via Zoom, candy scavenger hunts in the home or yard and hosting scary movie nights.

Still, experts say that there are ways to salvage trick-or-treating, or at least to reduce the considerable risks.

If you’re planning to head out, avoid large groups and indoor gatherings, and use a face covering (your costume’s mask doesn’t count). Bring hand sanitizer, and while experts say you probably don’t need to sanitize each and every candy wrapper, you should make sure hands are clean before they touch any sweets.

Dr. Aaron E. Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, suggests in an Opinion article that homeowners place a candy bowl six feet from the door, or on a platter, so children don’t do too much rummaging. Neighborhoods, he adds, can commit to starting earlier so that everyone isn’t all out at once, or even stagger the hours by age groups.

It’s important to remember that Halloween means a lot to children, especially during a year in which they may not be attending school in person or have had their daily routines upended to the virus.

“I think completely taking away Halloween could be detrimental to some of the mental health issues that kids are facing right now,” said Dr. Tista Ghosh, an epidemiologist at Grand Rounds, a digital health care company in San Francisco. She added that it’s best to “balance the risk of whatever activity they’re doing with mental health risks as well, and look for ways to minimize risk rather than reduce risk to zero because that’s just not possible.”

If trick-or-treating is not your thing, here are a few other ways to celebrate the spooky season.

This is an article from the New York Times.

 

Art for difficult times: The sculpture of Wataru Sugiyama

“Ashland sculptor Wataru Sugiyama began crafting his “May you feel peace within” statue just before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Oregon. When finished, this owl-like figure will be cast in bronze.

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Now covered with wax clay, the owl-like figure is ready for molding materials. Liquid bronze will then be poured into the molds to complete the statue. August 26, 2020 | Wataru Sugiyama

 When Gov Kate Brown issued her “Stay-at-Home” order back in March, it was as though Ashland sculptor Wataru Sugiyama had received the assignment for his latest sculpture weeks earlier.

“I started creating this sculpture before this pandemic,” recalls Sugiyama, who immigrated to the United States more than 30 years ago from Japan.

“The title of this sculpture is ‘May you feel peace within.’ I am planning to make the sculpture face a little bit looking down, so the person standing close in front will have an eye contact.”

The 13-foot-tall sculpture is an anthropomorphized owl, whose sweeping wings wrap around its torso in a gesture of self-care. Sugiyama considers the project “a mission from the universe.”

“I will try my best to make the sculpture’s eyes as gentle and tender as possible. I am trying to inject my feelings of mercy, compassion, forgiveness and love. My message (is) that whoever stands and looks up in front of the sculpture will right away feel calm and peace within.”

Masterful and highly collectable, Sugiyama’s sculptures range from the whimsical to the sublime and evoke both mirth and awe. Since February, Sugiyama has made almost daily trips to from his home in Ashland to work in a large studio he shares with other artists in nearby Phoenix, Oregon. Like many artists, he is used to working in isolation.

“I do not need the contact with many people. I wake up in the morning and work at the studio alone. I see two (of) my sculpture friends from time to time. But basically, work at the studio alone. So, my life as a sculptor is not affected by this virus.”

When the wax and clay sculpture is finished, Sugiyama plans to submit it for inclusion at the Meijer Sculpture Garden in Grand Rapids, Michigan. But before that can happen, Sugiyama will face several challenges.

“I am facing the financial difficulty. I was planning to buy some mold materials & tons of bronze to complete this large sculpture. Now I have to see how it goes.”

So far, gallery shows in San Francisco and Sacramento, California planned for early next year are still moving forward, but Sugiyama knows that could easily change.

Then in September, the Almeda Fire came within yards of Sugiyama’s studio in Phoenix. Unable to get there due to road closures, Sugiyama said his studio partner, artist Jack Langford had to climb onto the facility’s roof and douse embers with a garden hose.

“All houses across Highway 99 from (the studio) burned down. But the sculptures are safe,” Sugiyama said.

Though relieved, he is not one to worry in the first place. A lifetime of mediation practice has equipped Sugiyama to stay calm in difficult times and to trust the spirit voices that guide his hands, his chisel and his life’s path.

“Until I hear that voice, I don’t want to do anything,” he explained. “And I still have plenty time before the bronze process, so I would like to spend enough mindful time to (make the owl’s) facial expression best.”

“I feel lucky I am able to inject my passion into my sculpture every day at the studio since most of people stay home in stress, do job on computer. But I want to see people walking on street, smiling.”

He also hopes the completed bronze owl sculpture will provide comfort and cheer to people experiencing difficult times long into the future.

“At this point, (I) do not know where the sculpture goes, but I know the sculpture knows where to go.””

This article was written by Jule Gilfillan. You can find the source, here.

Moving During the Pandemic

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reSPACEd is a company that helps people prepare for a move or unpack in the Portland area.MaryJo Monroe/reSPACEd

“Moving is already hard enough. Add in precautions to reduce the spread of the deadly coronavirus, and packing up the old place and hauling cherished items to a new home can make you rethink your whole decision and stay put.

Or, you could find an upside to moving during a lockdown.

Just ask Jeff Chase. The guitar technician would be touring with musicians right now if the world hadn’t come to a halt. Instead, he moved to Estacada on April 1 and has had no other option than to stay at home and settle in.

The last time Chase moved, to Portland in 2005, he recalls stuffing boxes into the house and leaving on a tour the next day. He unpacked in between tours. It took him more than a year to finish.

“With Covid, I’ve had the time to plan and execute every room, DIY my whole winterization plan, make needed upgrades and enjoy the view,” he says. “The stress level is much lower.”

Safely Making a Move

A day after the sellers vacated, Chase fished his new house keys out of a lockbox. “There was no formal presentation or an unveiling like you see on makeover shows,” he jokes.

He scheduled a crew to clean and disinfect the surfaces, then he hired out-of-work stage hands with trucks to move his possessions.
“Since I’m in the music industry and was just there, cooling my jets, I wanted to support others who weren’t working either,” he says.
On moving day, he bought packing supplies and rented a U-Haul truck. The receipt was passed to him on a long stick “like a pizza spatula,” he says. “I was impressed with how easily people adapted. You tell a few jokes, do a transaction,” he says.

Pack, Move and Unpack Easier

At the start of stay-at-home orders, no one could have foreseen moving and storage companies like WayForth in Portland laying off employees and locking out about 600 customers from retrieving their furniture and other belongings.

STORAGECafé, a nationwide self-storage search website with more than 25,000 storage facilities listings, found most storage facilities have stayed open and installed ways for customers to avoid direct contact with the staff such as drive-up access and online payments.

“Some storage facilities decided to delay auctions and show leniency on late fees during this time,” reports Maria Gatea, senior editor at STORAGECafé’s blog.

American Moving & Storage Association members can provide virtual estimates, rather than visiting the home. They recommend buying new moving boxes and tape instead of using recycled boxes and if you’re in a vulnerable group, over 65 or have a compromised immune system, they suggest postponing a move until the pandemic is over if possible.

MaryJo Monroe is a professional organizer with reSPACEd, which has helped thousands of people since 2008 declutter in preparation of a move or unpack after a move to the Portland area.

“This summer, we did things a bit differently with the pandemic, but we still had one of our busiest move seasons ever,” she says.

Monroe, who is also the past president of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) Oregon, offers these tips:

Before You Move

  • Take the time to put aside anything you don’t need or want to avoid packing it and paying to have it transported. Look online or call charity thrift stores to confirm they are accepting donations.
  • Keep your pre-pandemic clothes that you haven’t worn in six months, suggests Monroe, but separate them from the rest of your wardrobe. Keep them in a labeled packing tub to avoid wasting time and space in your new closet hanging up clothes that you may not wear for awhile.
  • Put face masks and sanitization supplies in a clearly labeled box and keep it nearby during the move so it can be one of the first boxes you can access when you arrive. Clorox wipes will dry out and be useless if stashed in a hot garage or car trunk for days.

After You Move

  • If you have kids, need to start work right away or just hate the thought of unpacking boxes for the next several weeks, do yourself a favor and hire an unpacking company to set up your house. Insist that any workers in your home wear masks and gloves the entire time, even if they are working alone.
  • Coordinate with your internet provider so you can get online within 24 hours of your move.
  • If you are working from home, the home office will probably be one of the rooms, along with the kitchen and bathroom, that you will want to unpack and set up first. If you will be doing video conference calls, hang artwork or set up bookshelves on the wall opposite your computer screen to project a professional appearance on your calls. Read: More tips for setting up a work-from-home space
  • If you have school-age children, they will need their distance learning space set up right away too. It can be tough to get a desk at some of the Portland area’s big box stores right now due to office furniture shortages, so in a pinch kids can use an oversize clipboard on their lap. Read: More tips for setting up a distance learning space
  • Save room in your pantry to accommodate cleaning supplies and extra nonperishable food in case you have to quarantine for two to three weeks.
  • Don’t feel rushed to unpack entertaining cookware or servingware. Parties are on hold, so put those items in the garage or basement, freeing up space in your pantry.
  • The garage and basement are typically the last rooms to be unpacked and set up after a move. During this pandemic and wildfire season, leave extra storage space on the shelves for emergency supplies such as bottled water, paper products and outdoor sleeping gear. Many families are also making room in their garages or basements for an extra freezer to store additional food, says Monroe.

Helpful Sources

U-Haul has moving kits with boxes, tape, bubblewrap and of course, trucks and trailers to rent. Or if you’re moving within the city, you can book a Zipcar for the time you need.

Staples has measuring tapeboxes and other moving supplies.

If you need a second pair of hands, TaskRabbit can connect you to people skilled to help with cleaning, furniture assembly and small home repairs.

After you find out who’s the best company in your new area, get WiFi connected with AT&TVerizon or a Google Nest from Verishop.

Organize your new home with Open Spaces or The Container StoreHome Depot and Wayfair also have closet systems and solutions.”

This article was written by Janet Eastman. It can be found, here.

Arrival of COVID-19 Tests Provide Hope for Reopening Schools

A massive shipment of federal testing supplies could provide Oregon with its best chance to reopen on-site learning in schools. The federal government has promised to accommodate Oregon with 60,000 to 80,000 tests each week through the end of the year, allowing for better identification of new cases. 

While state officials claim there is no way the testing supplies would qualify for on-going testing at schools and a sweeping, immediate reopening, it has helped advance schools to pick back up.

The Director of the Oregon Health Authority thinks focusing these tests on driving down the prevalence rate will help get us to a sufficient environment in which we could start in-person learning for the long run safely. While there is optimism, there are prevalent challenges that could interfere with the return of schools; Public Health Officials worry the spread will increase during flu season, making coronavirus even more threatening.

As part of a commitment from the Trump Administration, they will be providing 100 million tests across the country; This is good news for Oregon as we will be receiving a large wave of tests. In response to the new tests coming our way, the first step will be expanding testing guidelines by advising testing for anyone exposed through close contact to a confirmed or suspected infection, even if the person lacks symptoms. While it is unclear how many Oregonians will be tested as a direct result of the change in criteria, most people infected come in contact with ten people on average who would now be eligible for examination.

“Oregon has relatively few coronavirus cases and deaths compared to other states. Oregon also has one of the nation’s lowest per capita testing rates, with only about 30,000 tests completed each week” (Schmidt 12). Patrick Allen, the Director of Oregon Health Authority, wants to see the state use at least half of the government’s share along with the state’s existing benchmark; This means at least 600,000 Oregonians should be tested weekly in the fall. The set expectation is doable and should use the testing equipment to our utmost advantage.

Development in testing called the Abbott BinaxNOW is an antigen test that provides results within 15 minutes through the nasal swab. It detects proteins on the surface of the virus rather than detecting the underlying genetic material. While this is convenient and inexpensive, the tests are not always accurate and could produce a higher rate of false negatives, giving infected people the wrong impression. It is important to stress the reality that false negatives are not uncommon, so you should continue wearing your masks and social distancing.

The state is reviewing its school reopening criteria and making changes within the coming weeks.

“The state is likely to keep requirements that a county must have fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 residents in recent weeks to fully reopen to on-site learning, or 30 cases per 100,000 residents to reopen kindergarten through third grade” (Schmidt 26). If the state’s positivity rate is above 5%, officials may block full reopenings.

While distance learning is tough, it may be worse for kids and their families to be moving back and forth between closing and opening.

 

Agent Website Photos-KristaThis blog post was written by Krista Pham, our intern.

The article that inspired this piece can be found, here.

Portland Homes for Sale: Prices Rise, Inventory Plunges, Both Favoring Sellers

Despite a roller-coaster stock market, lingering pandemic and uncertainty caused by natural and made disasters, the real estate market continues to connect buyers to sellers (Eastman 1). In August, 3,149 Portland residential properties switched hands, according to the latest report by RMLS. Somehow, above all of the drama and contingency, real estate still progressed onward in the past month.

The low number of homes for sale continues to trouble home shoppers and favor sellers. As a result of the few houses on the market, the median sale price rose to $449,000, a 0.9% increase from the month of July.

Inventory of homes for sale in August scarcely rose, to 1.3 months, compared to July’s 1.2 months. “Basement-level inventory in a state with the largest housing shortage in the nation is offering buyers the fewest choices in years” (Eastman 5).

The coronavirus lessened the number of homes for sale in the Portland metro area and across the country. The number of Portland listings in August plummeted 8.3% (3,385) compared to July (4,236). When examining the first eight months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, new listings (27,379) declined by 10.1%.

The most influential factor of not selling was the concern of not finding another home.

The majority of sellers also served as buyers, so as new listings hit the market, another buyer is also added. As for the issues in inventory, previously vacant homes that acted as second homes and rentals have been reoccupied by their owners, taking them off the market. With inventory still at a low though, prices have been bumped up for homes.

“Buyers who haven’t lost their source of income and have acceptable debt-to-income ratios are cashing in on mortgage rates in the historically low 2.9% range, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, known as Freddie Mac” (Eastman 17).

3,679 pending Portland homes increased 1.1% in August compared to July but skyrocketed 26.2% from the 2,929 offers in August 2019.

The deadly wildfires that wrecked Oregon properties in early September took a consequential impact on home sales too. Thousands of people were left relocated from their homes, living in temporary housing and mobile home parks. While the market was already desperate for inventory before the fire, with properties damaged and destroyed, the situation has only worsened. The cost to rebuild later resulted in higher asking prices. The fires delayed transactions that were able to continue during the pandemic, and homeowners became timid to list their homes. People are desperate for housing, so if you put your house on the market with a reasonable asking price, you will be bombarded with offers.

 

Agent Website Photos-KristaThis blog post was written by Krista Pham, our intern.

The article that inspired this piece can be found, here.

Oregon Movie Theaters During the Pandemic

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Photo: Jason E. Kaplan | Northwest Film Center and Portland Art Museum’s drive-in screening of Xanadu at Zidell Yards next to the Ross Island Bridge

 When quarantine began in Oregon, back in March, Governor Kate Brown halted all gatherings of 25 people or more. At the time, many theaters in Oregon were still showing movies like 1917 and Parasite. What makes Oregon theaters different from the rest of the U.S. is that moviegoers rely heavily on independent cinemas that are struggling through COVID-19, rather than large owned companies such as AMC, Regal, and Cinemark. For instance, Portland has approximately twenty-five movie theaters, but only five of them are owned by large companies. Each of Oregon’s independent theaters has taken their approach to moviegoing during the pandemic. While some have stayed dark and hoped for the best, others like the Columbia Theatre and the St. Johns Twin Cinemas sell packs of concessions. The drive-in movie theatres in Oregon, such as the 99W and the M-F, continued their summer business with classic films and social distancing in their vehicles. Smaller indoor theaters like the Cinema 8 and Cinemagic got creative by selling packs of DVDs and concessions to keep their business running. 

Unfortunately, their patience will not last forever with the hold Governor Kate Brown still has on social gatherings. In late August, Oregon movie theater owners petitioned to join bars and restaurants as part of the phase one reopenings. “Theater owners including Tom Ranieri of Portland’s Cinema 21, Doug Whyte of Portland’s Hollywood Theatre and Conners McMenamin of the McMenamins chain argued that they had space for social distancing and the experience with crowds to warrant the capacity of up to 100 that Phase 1 allows for bars and restaurants” but until phase two, theaters will only be allowed to host 25 people at a time (Notte 5).

For many owners and programmers, to survive, they must rethink the meaning of cinemas for the future in this pandemic:

 

The Oregon Theater, Portland –

Kevin Cavenaugh, former Peace Corps Architect, bought out a porn theater in April. He told the owner, who passed in May, that he would do something others would not: “save the building and bring the theater back”.

Built in 1925, the Oregon Theater was initially a 6,000-square-foot vaudeville palace. In the 1960s, the theater moved on to X-rated films and took on a reputation of seediness. It had not seen any maintenance for the past 40 years, but now there’s more light and it is clean; Many of the original features of the theater remain intact and ornate vaudeville detail. It is a vintage movie palace waiting to open.

 

The Hollywood Theatre, Portland – 

Built in 1926, the Hollywood Theatre is Portland’s most intricate cinema palace. Since the pandemic shut down the Hollywood to audiences, the theater and its community have gone through several stages of coping and struggle to survive. They have sold to-go concessions from their lobby, hosted online screenings, streamed new releases, partnered with a hip hop artist and producer, and rented out its biggest theater space to parties of 10. 

To end summer with a bang, the Hollywood Theatre teamed up with the Portland Expo Center to host drive-in screenings on the Expo Center’s wall. Films shown include Mad Max, Jurassic Park, and Beetlejuice.

To people’s surprise, membership for the Hollywood is doing better now than it was this time last year. People have stepped up and upgraded their memberships and even sent donations. Though the Hollywood promised their members they would make up for the lost time from closures, they know they can always rely on their members to support the theater if needed.

 

Northwest Film Center/Portland Art Museum, Portland – 

After thirteen years of being apart of a Brooklyn-based Independent Filmmaker Project, Amy Dotson moved to Portland in the middle of 2019 to work with Northwest Film Center as the director and curator. Unfortunately, six months later, the film center’s screening room at the Portland Art Museum was closed by COVID-19. 

“Dotson viewed it not as a crisis but as an existential question: What is cinema? Where can it be made and shown? What communities get to take part in it? Is an open theater — or a screen of any sort — necessary for its enjoyment?” (Notte 30).

Dotson viewed the Portland International Film Festival as the basis of a new idea: “an intersection of art, storytelling, and cinema”. With venues shut down, including the Northwest Film Center, the universal approach towards cinema accelerated.

The film center turned their cinema approach into a drive-in at Zidell Yards this summer showing favorites such as Creature From the Black Lagoon, E.T.and The Birds with broader offerings including The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, Knives, and Skin, and the documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble.

The film center has found many ways to keep both the cinema alive and escape its more siloed definitions.

 

Cinema 21, Portland – 

After COVID-19 hit, Tom Ranieri did what little he could; He teamed with distributors for virtual screenings and held benefit screenings with tickets selling at $99 apiece. In August, he decided to host socially distanced screenings with classic movies and capped crowds at 25 people. The money he made off his “Virtual Cinema” with distributors helped him enough to make him consider holding onto the theater post-pandemic. 

Through his efforts and his petition for Kate Brown to reopen theaters, his goal is to prove to people that he can still run a theater and that people will still attend movies if you let them.

 

McMenamins theaters, Oregon and Washington – 

Family-owned business, McMenamins has many branches such as wine, beer, coffee, restaurants, hotels, concerts, golf courses, and the movie empire. They have six first-run movie theaters and three second-run theaters in Oregon and Washington. While the theaters compromise between 2-4% of the business, they tend to draw their customers to other parts of McMenamins. At McMenamins, you can enjoy a movie while taking time to explore the gardens, restaurants, and other fun entertainment the property has to offer. 

About 60 employees were directly affected by the closures and while some were able to shift to other parts of the McMenamins operations, it was a bit tougher on those who worked at venues such as the Bagdad Theater and Mission Theater in Portland. Fortunately, they were able to use the Old. St. Francis School theater in bed and it’s Olympia Club theater in Centralia to try out social-distancing strategies. They closed off and removed seats, updated software to space out guests, and played with concessions and ideas like in-seat food delivery; This allowed McMenamins to use social-distancing strategies from its restaurants to give their movie theaters a chance to return after the pandemic.

 

Agent Website Photos-KristaThis blog post was written by Krista Pham, our intern.

The article that inspired this piece can be found, here.

Office Real Estate Market Predicted to Return to Pre-COVID Level in 2025

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Vacancies caused by Covid-19 will result in over 200 million of net negative square footage in the office real estate market, but the growth of professional services sector jobs will help lead to a recovery over five years, says Cushman & Wakefield. Thomas Barwick | Getty Images

For the past six months, working from home has become a permanent trend during this pandemic. Ultimately, we will all return to our workspaces and the number of people will match up to what we had pre-COVID. The question remains as to when things will finally return to normal. According to a news forecast from Cushman & Wakefield, it could take five years.

Global office vacancies aren’t projected to return to their pre-Covid peak level until 2025, resulting in the loss of 215 million square feet of office vacancy due to the pandemic. Between the start of COVID-19 in the United States and 2021, the net-negative office square feet damage will reach approximately 95 million square feet, topping the financial crisis trough by 10 million square feet.

During the financial crisis, Canada, Europe, and the U.S. reported a combined decline of 120.5 million square feet occupancy from peak-to-trough. This evidence proves that the situation will most likely be worse in the west.

The work from home trend is present in most companies operating through the pandemic. Cushman & Wakefield studied some of the most extensive companies around the world about the future of the office and ventured to weigh both the cyclical results of the Covid recession and structural impacts regarding a tremendous increase in work from home. Two key verdicts arose from this study; Office leasings fundamentals will be significantly impacted, and vacancies will increase to an all-time high. Secondly, the office real estate market will fully recover immensely due to employment growth and the continuous shift in the U.S. economy’s concentration in certain types of professional jobs.

An estimated 82% of the damage in real estate firms will be related to cyclical factors such as permanent job losses and the growth of coworking. The other 18% is due to structural factors like assumptions about permanent remote workers and hybrid workers. Work from home will double, and those who are working both from home and at the office (hybrid) will increase. “The study estimates that the share of people working permanently from home in the U.S. and Europe will increase from roughly 5-6% pre-Covid-19 to between 10% and 11% post-Covid, while the share of hybrid — also referred to as agile workers — will increase from between 32% to 36% to just under half of all workers (Para 8).

Levi Strauss & Co recently shut down any new commercial real estate during the crisis. The CFO states, “The myth that work from home is not productive has been busted.”  The CFO believes that society will eventually settle into a culture where working from anywhere will be the new norm. As for Google, they will be trying out a hybrid plan of work since most employees don’t want to be in the office every day. Young workers are taking advantage of the remote working shift to travel, embracing a new lifestyle full of voyage and technology. This is a transformation that could become permanent for a new generation of workers.

Many workers still do not feel comfortable returning to their offices. After one study, only 14% of workers claimed they felt trusting enough of their CEOs and managers to safely lead them back to work. As for now, working from home is the new norm for our society.

Agent Website Photos-KristaThis blog post was written by Krista Pham, our intern.

The article that inspired this piece can be found, here.