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Iconic Portland ice cream business threatens to move headquarters over city's rampant crime

Fox Business 11/29/2022 Emma Colton
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An iconic Portland, Oregon, ice cream business is threatening to move its headquarters from the city over rampant crime, which store owners say puts their employees at risk. 

"If we can’t make it safe, I can’t stay here," Salt & Straw co-founder Kim Malek said last week, according to Oregon Live. "It’s just not responsible of me to put my team in that position."

Malek said she wants to work with city and county leaders to address widespread drug use, homeless encampments and violence, but will be forced to leave if the concerns are not addressed. 

"It’s really hard for a lot of people right now," Malek said. "I’m not here to point fingers. I want to be part of the solution."

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Ice cream with spoon at Salt & Straw ice cream shop in San Ramon, California, July 16, 2021. Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images © Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images Ice cream with spoon at Salt & Straw ice cream shop in San Ramon, California, July 16, 2021. Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

"Our intention is to work through this," she added. "I cannot stay here if we don’t."

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Salt & Straw was established in 2011 and was soon ranked as having some of the best ice cream in the U.S. The company has since opened store locations in Los Angeles, Miami and other cities and also ships orders to customers nationwide.

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In the latest blow to the business, an RV burst into flames near Salt & Straw’s headquarters last Monday, Oregon Live reported, shutting down power to the ice cream parlor and other nearby businesses

Interior of Salt & Straw ice cream shop in San Ramon, California, July 16, 2021. Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images © Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images Interior of Salt & Straw ice cream shop in San Ramon, California, July 16, 2021. Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

A musician named Thomas Lauderdale sounded the alarm on the fire and other issues plaguing the area in an email to two dozen county and city leaders. He also noted in the email that a Salt & Straw employee recently had a gun pointed at their head, Oregon Live reported. 

Counter with trays of artisan ice cream at Salt & Straw ice cream shop in San Ramon, California, July 16, 2021. Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images © Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images Counter with trays of artisan ice cream at Salt & Straw ice cream shop in San Ramon, California, July 16, 2021. Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

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"Their lease is up in April, and although it will cost them millions and millions to relocate, they are at a breaking point, and are planning to move out of state," Lauderdale wrote. "This is less a homeless issue; it is a health and public safety and drug issue. The schizophrenia we’re seeing, the violence, the fires ... this is drug fueled, and it needs to be addressed immediately."

Other businesses have recently closed or packed up locations in Portland due to crime, including clothing shop Rains PDX, which posted a blistering message to its front door about how the city is in "peril."

"Our city is in peril," the message reads. "Small businesses (and large) cannot sustain doing business, in our city’s current state. We have no protection, or recourse, against the criminal behavior that goes unpunished. Do not be fooled into thinking that insurance companies cover losses. We have sustained 15 break-ins … we have not received any financial reimbursement since the 3rd." 

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