Shop Small

In honor of Small Business Week, we’re celebrating the capital’s distinct shopping districts

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May is special for many reasons: Spring feels official, outdoor markets begin to pop up on weekends, restaurants welcome patrons on patios without heaters or igloos, more of us are vaccinated, and, of course, there’s Mother’s Day. However, getting a gift for mom isn’t the only reason to shop – it’s also National Small Business Week, which after a tough year, is more meaningful than ever to local retailers. So stop scrolling and start strolling, using our handy guide to the city’s shopping destinations, where between cafes and coffee shops are storefronts brimming with apparel, accessories, gifts, and more for endless browsing – all year round. 

 

Broadway

Weekend mornings see Broadway – a go-to strip for antiques, records, and unique curios – teeming with brunch-goers and shoppers tucking into stores nestled amidst colorful Victorians. Meanwhile, just a few steps away, al fresco dining on Atwells backdrops bustling Italian markets like Roma and Venda Ravioli along with boutique retail. Though Broadway’s appeal seems effortless, organizations like the West Broadway Neighborhood Association have been instrumental in helping keep these businesses afloat through the pandemic. “Being good neighbors to our local businesses was a critical element to our 2020 work,” explains WBNA Executive Director Kari Lang, listing their Shop in Place promotion effort, Take it Outside grant program, and upcoming neighborhood-wide yard sale on May 22. 

Analog Underground: A record store with vintage finds and new artists for your spinning pleasure. Shopping is by appointment or curbside, with stock updated online. 504 Broadway, @analogunderground

Armageddon Record Store: Another must for vinyl lovers, this arsenal of albums also stocks CDs, cassettes, and magazines, with shopping by appointment. 436 Broadway

Carrara’s Shoes: Specializing in women’s shoes, stop in for a fitting and find a range of styles and price points to walk out with. 258 Atwells Avenue

Dash Bicycle Shop: This full-service bike shop shares a space with The Nitro Bar and offers tune-ups alongside bikes and accessories, with pickup and delivery services. 228 Broadway

Floral Designs by LiRog: Arranging unique and contemporary bouquets since 1995, this Federal Hill florist has designs for all occasions, with walk-ins welcome and same-day delivery. 349 Broadway

Gather Glass: Easy to spot by the wide range of colorful glass pieces reflecting in the window, all for sale, this former Rhody Gem also hosts classes. 521 Atwells Avenue

Garbolino Boutique: Shop designer pieces with fine fabrics and prints you won’t find anywhere else at this ahead-of-the-trend boutique. 254 Atwells Avenue

Jephry Floral Studio: Along with floral arrangements, browse succulents, greeting cards, and keepsakes. Walk-in shopping is welcome, plus phone and online orders for delivery. 432 Broadway

Hall’s on Broadway: A thrifter’s heaven, racks of clothing from decades past are surrounded by antique treasures, funky jewelry, and even local memorabilia. 145 Broadway

Rocket to Mars: Known for their rotating, themed window displays of mannequins and furnishings, this eclectic shop carries everything from mid-century modern drinkware to vintage denim. 144 Broadway

White Buffalo: Though no longer across the street from The Columbus, this gift shop hasn’t moved far and still carries plenty of herbal teas, candles, spooky artifacts, and unique jewelry. 498 Washington Street, @whitebuffalori

 

Downcity

Wandering Westminster, Weybosset, and Washington Streets, you understand why downtown is considered the heart of the city: High-rises tower above, including the iconic Superman Building, while murals splash color on plain brick walls, and sidewalks are lined with restaurants and retailers you’ll only find here. Even amidst the pandemic, Downcity throbbed with life during Open Air Saturdays for patrons to shop safely outdoors, something that Craftland manager Darrien Segal found people to be more than enthusiastic about. “It feels really good to know all of the downtown stores are working together and supporting each other,” she says, and neighboring proprietors agree. “Downcity has big city amenities at a small town pace,” adds Ruth Meteer, owner of The Vault Collective. “Truly the Creative Capital.” 

Civil: Ultra-cool accessory and apparel destination that draws inspiration from the world of skateboarding, snowboarding, and surfing. 231 Westminster Street

Craftland: After their whimsical window display draws you in, be amazed by the candy-shop collection of entirely local art, toys, housewares, jewelry, and more. 212 Westminster Street

Eno Fine Wines & Spirits: Browse this specialty store’s stock online – including wine, spirits, beer, and even sake! – to order for pickup or local delivery. 225 Westminster Street

Good Game Grill: Along with diner-style eats and in-store gameplay, purchase newly released board games or rent one to try at home. 53 Weybosset Street

Homestyle: The ultimate gift shop, find everything from puzzles and games to gourmet treats, stationery, home decor, children’s items, and cookware. 229 Westminster Street

Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council: Housed in the historic Arcade, this storefront/gallery/visitor center offers an emporium of everything sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and weird. 65 Weybosset Street

Queen of Hearts & Modern Love: These sister shops share the same cool sense of style, offering colorful apparel, fun jewelry, lifestyle goods, and even bath and body products. 222 Westminster Street

Symposium Books: An independent bookstore where bookworms can peruse new and used titles, plus vinyl, greeting cards, and an assortment of locally sourced accessories. 240 Westminster Street

The Vault Collective: Take a trip back in time through fashions spanning the 1880s to 1990s at this vintage clothing shop featuring curated collections for men and women.
235 Westminster Street

 

Fox Point

“I love having a brick-and-mortar business in Fox Point because we’re a community,” says Jayna Aronovitch, director of LORE Collection. You’re probably familiar with Wickenden, but the neighborhood also includes a section of South Main, India Point Park, and across Ives and Governor Streets to Pitman. Surrounded on three sides by water and lined with historic plaque houses, Fox Point has a low-key historic seaport vibe. Despite being one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, something about the area always feels fresh and funky. “I think the shops along and near Wickenden Street offer unique gift ideas you won’t be able to find online,” says Vincent Scorziello, president of the Wickenden Area Merchants Association and owner of Campus Fine Wines.

Adler’s Design Center & Hardware: For over 101 years locals have been turning to this store for trusted know-how, design expertise, and hardware supplies. 173 Wickenden Street

Atomic Appliance: From wine fridges to dishwashers, skip the big chains and buy local at this store, family-owned since 1950. 250 Wickenden Street

City Gardens Flower Shop by Gary: This charming full-service florist has been brightening people’s days with blooms for over 32 years. Ask about their Mother’s Day Special. 284 Wickenden Street

Gallery Belleau: Find colorful delicacies like single-stemmed daffodils or an entire bouquet in a vase, all made from hand-blown glass by artist Christopher R. Beallau. 427 Wickenden Street

Legend Bicycle: Whether you’re a “transportation cyclist” or “urban explorer”, this one-stop bike and repair shop will set you up with the proper fit to be on your way. 181 Brook Street

LORE Collective: Looking for art prints, handmade jewelry, paper goods, and more? Check out this lifestyle shop with the always lovely window displays, owned and operated by RISD alumni. 144 Brook Street

Mister Sister Erotica: An adult toy boutique that’s been around for over a dozen years and claims to have “more toys than the devil’s got sinners.” 268 Wickenden Street, @MisterSisterProvidence

NAVA: This cool shop next to The Coffee Exchange has everything for a perfect day of treating yourself – including chocolate bars and curated gift boxes! 197 Wickenden Street

Nostalgia Antiques & Collectibles Store: Three floors plus 200 vendors equals a great time perusing. Bonus: It’s even pet friendly so you can mask up and bring Fido along. 236 Wickenden Street

Olympic Records: One of two record stores on Wickenden, find yourself surrounded by vinyl while flipping through favorite and undiscovered albums. 580 Wickenden Street, @olympicrecords

The Peaceable Kingdom: Since 1980, this Fair Trade shop – and former Rhody Gem – has been enchanting shoppers with its bazaar vibe. Pickup available and a grand reopening in the works! 116 Ives Street

Red Bridge Antiques: Decorative arts are this store’s specialty which also deals in estate services. Find works by New England artists of all disciplines, plus fine watches and jewelry. 416 Wickenden Street

Round Again Records: Thayer Street was once the place to go for darting from record store to record store. Relive that magic by stopping here (before or after Olympic), a PVD fixture since 1979. 278 Wickenden Street

Rustigian Rugs: Peruse a showroom of internationally sourced handwoven rugs and luxury carpeting at this esteemed family owned business now in its 91st year. 1 Governor Street

Studio 539 Flowers with Dugan Custom Jewelers: If you love beautiful things, this full-service florist and pop-up jewelry shop housed inside a 200-year-old brick house will have you swooning. 174 Wickenden Street

Talulah Cooper: Personalized necklaces, variety of designer lines, and range of price points make this little building with the unicorn painted on the side a must on your Fox Point shopping day. 5 Traverse Street

Three Wheel Studio: Find beautiful vessels of all sizes featuring flowers set in ceramic made in this studio by owner and potter Dwo Wen Chen. 436 Wickenden Street

 

Hope Street

While this street stretches across the East Side for about three miles, it’s the section between Rochambeau Avenue and Fifth Street that’s a must-stop for its list of specialty shops. Where else in the city can you find a store dedicated solely to kitchen wares? There are also shops focused on toys, sterling silver, olive oil, cameras, fabric goods, and more. Also adding charm is the fact that Hope Street is in the heart of a residential neighborhood, so you’re just as likely to see a family pushing a stroller after a breakfast at The Blue Cottage as you are a college student zooming past on a bike with a basket filled with a baguette from Seven Stars and bouquet from Blooming Blossoms. 

Blooming Blossoms: A full-service florist, also find potted blooms, fresh bouquets, and related seasonal decor accents. 780 Hope Street

The Camera Werks: Need a roll of film? Custom framing? Photo album? Passport pic? Or, of course, a camera? Patronize one of the last indie camera shops in the state. 766 Hope Street

Evolve Apothecary & Spa: Who could guess that next door to a gas station would be a tranquil oasis stocked with pure, organic body care products, also offering massage and facial services? 769 Hope Street

Frog & Toad: Made nationally famous by the iconic Knock it Off shirt, this plucky gift shop purveys original merch stamped with an irreverent sense of humor available for curbside pickup. 795 Hope Street

Green River Silver Co.: For more than 30 years, locals who love fine sterling jewelry have been shopping here (or at their Wickford location). Even better, a portion of sales for their RI collection benefits Save the Bay! 735 Hope Street

Henry Bear’s Park: This Rhody extension of the Boston-based chain is a treat for anyone who loves toys – and the kind that you just can’t find at the big box stores. 736 Hope Street

J Marcel: Known for chic-meets-affordable women’s apparel, shoes, and accessories. Savvy shoppers will also love The Back Room, a fabulous nook filled with sale items. 808 Hope Street

Kreatelier: Be enchanted by colorful textiles like pillows and reusable goods, in addition to selected toys, accents, and gifts in this fabric concept store, which recently expanded with a studio in the space next door. 804 Hope Street

LuLi Boutique: Ready to infuse some pizzazz into your look? We’re talking animal prints, chunky necklaces, bedazzled face masks, and more. 782 Hope Street

Olive del Mondo: Find olive oils in an ombre range of colors and flavors, vinegars, even a vegan mini-mart. While the tasting bar is closed during this time, walk-up and curbside are available. 815 Hope Street

pH Factor: Owner Priya Himatsingka outfits her shop with all kinds of vibrant home goods, accents, and accessories. Highlights include fine art and notions from recent trips to India, a tin ferris wheel, glassware, and handmade jewelry. 780 Hope Street

Rhody Craft: A lighthearted retailer filled with all kinds of RI-themed merchandise like T-shirts, mugs, and stickers. Even grab yourself a fun “I’m Vaccinated!” pin. 769 Hope Street

Stock Culinary Goods: Imagine a Williams-Sonoma but it’s locally owned, imbues warm personality, and is filled with regional riches from foods to tools, top-of-the-line products, and even cookie cutters. 756 Hope Street

Studio Hop: Boasting a curated collection of beautiful paintings by local artists at a variety of price points, jewelry, period furniture, ceramics, clothing, and more. 810 Hope Street

Trek Bicycle: This family owned chain has everything you need to get riding and we adore that they celebrate #NewBikeDay for customers on their IG, and offer 24-hour service (what!?). 729 Hope Street

 

Thayer Street

Thayer Street has adopted several identities over the years, from distinctly punk and packed with record stores in the ‘80s to the trendier, food-forward stretch it is today. It’s been compared to the Harvard Square of Providence, referring to its symbiotic relationship with Brown University and RISD students. While the face of Thayer retail has certainly changed over the years with the arrival of national names like Urban Outfitters and most recently Warby Parker, its hip heart remains with longtime anchor stores like Berk’s and Spectrum India joined by newer indie shops. Note: While parking on the actual street is tricky due to limited space and ongoing construction, we promise the visit is worth the extra steps from a side street!

Berk’s Shoes & Clothing: One of the oldest retailers on Thayer, Berk’s has been serving up the latest trends in shoes, apparel, and accessories for over 40 years. 272 Thayer Street

Brown Bookstore: Discover Ivy League-branded gifts and merch alongside books and tech galore in this cozy campus shop and cafe. 244 Thayer Street

Pleasant Surprise: A gift store for every kind of shopper, find funky goods like sarcastic tea towels, Rhody-themed shirts, fun mugs, boho planters, and more. 297 Thayer Street

Sneaker Junkies: The name says it all: A large showroom of exclusive and streetwear sneakers, and accessories for the fashion-forward footwear aficionado. 290 Thayer Street

Spectrum India: Another enduring member of the Thayer community, this eclectic bohemian gift shop has a little bit of everything, including astrology readings, henna art, and reiki sessions by appointment. 252 Thayer Street

 

Wayland Square

For the first time in years, the Wayland Square Merchants Association reports that the Square is at 100 percent capacity, with every storefront filled with cozy cafes, elevated dining, beauty services, and not least of all, plenty of retail. A short stroll along Wayland Avenue and Angell Street will take you past national retailers like Fat Face, J. McLaughlin, lululemon, and West Elm mixed with small specialty shops. The block is lively without being overly bustling, a place where neighbors can meet over coffee at L’Artisan Café or where visitors are drawn to seasonal events. On May 8, Wayland Avenue will be closed to traffic for Cinco de Madre: Think live music, pop-ups, build-your-own bouquets, and even a dog parade!

Bellevue Bronze: Along with luxury spray tanning, this resort wear boutique is fully stocked with seasonal wear, sunglasses, hats, bags, jewelry, and more to complete your beach look. 206 Wayland Avenue

Books on the Square: This indie bookstore has been stocking its shelves with new releases and timeless classics since 1992. In-store browsing is welcome, along with curbside pickup. 471 Angell Street

BORA: A new addition to the square, three brothers bring their Mediterranean-inspired handcrafted jewelry collections, even offering private showings of custom pieces. 210 Wayland Avenue

F. Bianco: From elegant clutches and spring dresses to boots for every occasion, this boutique is a must for timeless styles and staying on-trend this season.
467 Angell Street

Green Ink Boutique: Colorful, fashionable apparel come in styles for women of all shapes and sizes at this regional mainstay whose flagship in Wickford has been around since 1972. 199 Wayland Avenue

Milan Fine Clothiers: You’d be hard pressed to find a more personalized suit fitting experience, with ready-to-wear upscale garments, tailoring, and design-your-own private label services. 178 Wayland Avenue

Mrs. Robinson Fine Lingerie: Boasting 35 years as a women-owned staple for lingerie, luxury styles come in silk, cotton, and cashmere. Come in for a fitting or view an online lookbook. 180 Wayland Avenue

Opt Eyewear Boutique: Find your new favorite frames from a selection of hundreds with the help of seasoned stylists; just bring along your prescription and they’ll personalize the rest. 138 Wayland Avenue

Paper Nautilus Books: This treasure trove of rare books, art artifacts, antiques, and other oddities is a dream for any collector or lover of the printed word.
19 S Angell Street

Reliable Gold Ltd.: Curating unique fine gold pieces since 1936, this trusted jeweler sells antique and contemporary, classic and eclectic, and offers repair and appraisals, too. 9 Wayland Avenue

Wendy Brown Home: Refresh your space with swanky decor, tableware, cotton bedding, and more at this home store filled with accents for all tastes. 190 Wayland
Avenue

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