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Business as usual Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Dressed as a dog, Kit Collins protests the fur industry as shoppers walk past Schumacher Furs & Outerwear in downtown Portland, Ore., on Dec. 23, 2006. Demonstrators have been picketing outside the store every Saturday for more than a year.

Despite an eviction notice saying the furier had to leave the premises by 1 p.m. today, it's business as usual today for Schumacher Furs & Outerwear, and the protesters who picket the downtown Portland store every weekend.

Gregg Schumacher, owner of the 111-year-old business, said today that he expected to be in that location for "another couple of months."

In November, Schumacher indicated that the company would be moving to suburban Portland in the Spring. He was quoted in The Oregonian saying
the store would leave downtown Portland because the area is "losing its appeal for people to shop in."

Today, he confirmed that he would be moving but declined to say where.

"We're not disclosing that right now," he said.

Last Saturday, anti-fur activists continued their yearlong protest outside the Schumacher's 811 SW Morrison St. location.

"It's not personal on Gregg Schumacher," says Matt Rossell who works for the animal rights group In Defense of Animals. His group and others chose the location because of its visibility to the public, he says.

Schumacher has not taken the protests lying down, though. For much of the past year, he has held "protest sales" of 50% off every Saturday. Playing on their plackards, in March he responded directly to the demonstrators, putting signs in the window saying "All Protesters Should Be Beaten, Strangled, Skinned Alive, Anally Electrocuted."

In April, he complained to Portland City Council that police weren't doing enough to control the protesters, and filed a notice of intent to sue the city over the issue. He and his wife have also staged "anti-protester protests."

As quoted in The Oregonian, City Commissioner Randy Leonard feels the Schumachers are largely to blame.

"The Schumachers carry at minimum -- at minimum -- equal responsibility for what happened outside their store," Leonard said. "I think the case could be made they did what they could to fan the flames at every opportunity."

Matt Rossell agrees. One of the reasons they've been so successful in maintaining the protests every weekend is that people have been anxious to see what the Schumachers are going to do next, he says.

Another protester, Carol, declined to give her last name. The private security firm he hired to guard the store has been photographing, videotaping, and interrogating the protesters, she said.

Rossell won't describe driving Schumacher Furs out of downtown Portland as a victory. "The victory," he says, "is all the outreach over the last year."

Other protesters echo that sentiment. Kit Collins, who has been to all but one of the protests, won't call it a victory. "It does feel good to see him leaving, though."

The demonstrators say they will continue their weekly vigil until Schumacher's moves. After that, "it depends where he goes," says Collins. "Hopefully nobody will want him."