Popular Portland coupon publisher Chinook Book announces abrupt closure

Chinook Book, the popular Portland-based retail discount app often peddled as a fundraiser by Northwestern schools and nonprofits, abruptly announced last week that it would be shutting down after more 20 years old.

“With great regret, we are writing to inform you that our Chinook Book business could not survive the multitude of business challenges resulting from two years of COVID,” the company wrote in an email to customers.

The company added that it will “cease operation” of the app on April 20.

Despite the announcement, Monday afternoon the Chinook Book website had no indication that the business was closing. Instead, it was still ad offers and a 30-day free trial to sign up for the app. However, many of the company’s social media pages were no longer available.

Company officials did not respond to questions.

In the letter to subscribers, the company said current Chinook Book subscribers were offered the option to sign up for a free one-year subscription to another coupon service called Passport Unlimited. He did not mention refunds or whether customers would have access to coupons they paid for after Wednesday.

The announcement surprised its customers and merchants across Portland, which include businesses that offered a rewards-based program through Chinook Book’s app.

Jess Tannenbaum, retail manager at Grand Central Bakery, said the bakery learned about the Chinook Book closure through customers. The bakery relies on the Chinook Book app rewards platform which acts as the mobile version of a loyalty punch card, in which customers can receive a free loaf of bread or a free cup of coffee after 10 purchases .

“It’s unfortunate. I mean, it just doesn’t give companies a lot of time to come up with a plan,” she said. they’ve accumulated. And so we don’t really have any answers. We haven’t had time to make a plan.

Tannenbaum said Grand Central Bakery partnered with Chinook Book to provide deals to customers even before she joined the company more than 14 years ago. She said the bakery offered customers a physical punch card, but switched to a mobile version of the program through Chinook Book during the pandemic.

“We only have our bread and coffee punch card program through Chinook Book, which is very popular, as our customers love this program,” she said. “It’s what gets people excited and it’s something that brings people to coffee rather than just buying our bread at the grocery store.”

Last year, the bakery gave away about 10,000 free loaves of bread to customers who redeemed their points through the punch card program, Tannenbaum said, citing 2021 statistics from Chinook Book.

Tannenbaum said the company pays Chinook Book annually as part of the partnership. She said the bakery already paid the coupon company last September to continue running its rewards program.

Chinook Book was created by Celilo Group Media, a company founded by Nik Blosser, whose family owns the Sokol Blosser winery in Yamhill County. Blosser stepped down as the company’s CEO in 2017 after being chosen by Governor Kate Brown to be her chief of staff. It is unclear if he retained ownership of the company after his departure.

Chinook Book was originally released as a physical book, usually over an inch thick, often sold as a fundraiser for school groups or non-profit organizations. The company rolled out a mobile app version in 2010.

Companies and products had to meet standards for reducing environmental impact or supporting the community in order to appear in the book. Grocery stores were required to have a “substantial presence of certified organic products”. Cafes had to sell organic or fair trade coffee.

“Chinook Book is founded on a simple belief: Companies that give back should be companies that thrive,” the company said in a 2017 report posted on its website. “We believe the main way Chinook Book can benefit the communities we serve is to make it easier for people to direct more of their spending to good businesses – those that care for the environment and give back to the community.”

According to its website, Chinook Book has reached more than 300,000 consumers a year and made more than $42 million in sales to its business partners. The company operated in Oregon, Washington, California, Massachusetts, Colorado and Minnesota.

–Kristine de Leon, [email protected], @deleonkrist