Best of Rhode Island 2019
When it comes to what to eat, where to shop and things to do, we have compiled the ultimate list that has your plans for the next year covered.
Blaine’s Sewing Machine Center
1280 Oaklawn Ave., Cranston, 463-8824, blainesewing.net
Blaine’s has been around since its early days in the old Outlet building but we only just discovered this emporium for those who sew, and passionate wannabees. Sleek white models in various prices gleam in rows across the showroom, including top brands such as Baby Lock, Bernina and Janome. Need to brush up basic skills? Blaine’s also offers friendly, informal classes on making everything from beach cover-ups to table toppers.
Fashion with a Beach Vibe
Harper and Tucker
210 Wayland Square, Providence; 190 Bellevue Ave., Newport, 236-2623; harperandtucker.com
The West Coast meets the East Coast at this sunwashed Newport store and that extends to its new Providence location, with plans to offer updated brands and more styles. Gorgeous lacy lingerie, delicate floral and striped jumpsuits jive with fringed, crocheted knits and jackets and distressed denim. A smattering of edgy summer wedges and delicate jewels round off the artfully curated collection.
Moms and Tweens Boutique
474 Thames St., Newport, 619-2449, groovenewport.com
While tiny tots have Groovy Gator to thank for their pint-sized fashion, sister store Groove caters to their moms and tween sisters. Adorable wrap dresses, bedazzled totes and open-weave hooded knits play alongside side-striped denim jackets, distressed joggers and flamingo print swimwear.
Uniquely Chic Vintage
Briel Delmonaco began transforming antique furniture for fun out of her garage, hunting down Victorian couches and Hollywood sofas, and now she owns enough pieces to fill an entire warehouse in Lincoln. She rents the restored furniture, as well as floral backdrops, antique dishes, décor items and more for weddings and events, while also refurbishing privately owned
custom pieces. Her couches recently appeared on the Newport episode of “The Bachelorette.”
Rhody Warm Wool Blankets
Box 88, Harmony, Risheep.org
We can’t think of anything toastier than snoozing under a cozy lap throw crafted by the Rhode Island Sheep Cooperative. Every June, the co-op gathers some 2,000 pounds of sheep’s wool from members and turns it into snug throws and blankets of all sizes. Each year has a distinct pattern. Prices start at $85.
New Women’s Boutique, Downstate
381 Thames St., Newport, 619-5528, rochellesboutique.com
Rochelle LaRue Gallo opened her first store when she was just nineteen, and seventeen years later her coastally located boutiques in the City by the Sea, as well as Mystic and Watch Hill, are go-to outposts for locals and vacationers. The employees act as personal shoppers, assisting every woman in finding something she will look and feel beautiful in. Dress up or dress down in brands such as Free People or Tresics for a preppie or boho, flirty but classy and perfectly feminine outfit.
Althea Tower calls herself a builder but that understates how this Warren artist repurposes once-old vintage furniture into stunning home accessories. Her latest foray is into sign-making, transforming mundane items into pieces of art. Personalize a round for a baby’s room, a laundry area or a welcoming sign for a farmhouse kitchen, and local businesses can stand out from the crowd with custom logo signs.
Wanderlust-worthy weekenders, chic totes and luscious satchels in colors that range from saddle tan to raw “rasa” are just some of the high-end women’s bags handmade by artists at this Providence-based company. The bags are a splurge — guys’ briefcases start around $680 and women’s small crossbody bags begin around $490 — but they’re all guaranteed to last or Lotuff will service, repair or replace them. As cofounder Joe Lotuff notes, great leather only gets better with time. Available online or by appointment.
Specialized Wig Boutique
Papillon Jaune Salon and Wig Boutique
225 Wayland Ave., Providence, 455-0600, papillonjaunesalon.com
Kelly DiNitto expanded her full-service East Side salon last fall to include a wig boutique catering to women with alopecia, other types of hair loss, or undergoing cancer treatments. DiNitto handles each client’s needs with sensitivity, determining individual lifestyle, whether there’s a preference for real or synthetic hair, and if the wig will be worn every day; consultations include step-by-step instructions to take home.
200 West Main Rd., Little Compton, 635-4775, peckhamsgreenhouse.com
This affordable, year-round greenhouse will liven up your home with color and greenery inside and out. The Peckhams have been farming the land since 1865 and love to provide a variety of plants, especially the growing popularity of indoor house plants, hand-grown from cuttings. From succulents and exotic cacti to spider plants, ask them which house plants are best suited for you and your home.
18 State St., Bristol, 254-9333, therapyboutiques.com
Tucked inside New Leaf Hair Studio, Therapy is a stop that shouldn’t be missed. Perhaps you need a pair of perfect leggings, a new summer dress or a gift for an upcoming wedding. Or maybe some new earrings that you can wear day or night — you will get that dose of retail Therapy, with some Rhode Island flair, you didn’t know you were even looking for.
New Bookstore, Upstate
175 Main St., Pawtucket, 475-1979, stillwaterbooksri.com
Amazon hasn’t won all of the retail battles — the number of independent bookstores has risen steadily in the past decade — and Stillwater Books recently joined the ranks of Rhody indies. The bright and inviting downtown shop, owned by Steve and Dawn Porter (both published writers), has a genre-spanning range of new and gently used titles, and hosts author readings and signings and other lit-loving events. Dive in and get immersed in your next favorite book.
New Bookstore, Downstate
Ink Fish Books
488 Main St., Warren, 368-6827, inkfishbooks.com
There is something about the smell of a new book with fresh ink that you can hold and touch. Bookworms and members of the community can gather at Ink Fish Books to do just that and more. Some are meeting local authors, joining book clubs, tasting local treats at a cooking event or attending a children’s story time. Just go to visit a world that you can get lost in; you’ll probably bring a new world home too.
780 Hope St., Providence, 272-0020, phfactorstore.com
Ph Factor combines founder Priyadarshini Himatsingka’s eye-catching jewelry designs with unique finds inspired from her globe trotting. Gorgeous silk pillows collide with metallic leather wallets and unexpected finds like the flat Stanley-esque LED table lamp. An exclusive collection of upscale home textiles, created in India by the designer’s family, adds a touch of custom and is a nod to her roots.
Casual Fashion Accessories
154 Mill St., Newport, 619-2089, bohemianbias.com
This boutique has an all-around feel-good vibe with vintage and handmade clothing inspired by art, music and the laid-back vibes of the West Coast. The inviting space makes browsing enticing with its swing, a soft couch and events based on the moon cycle. But even more, it’s the must-have accessories that we gravitate to, from unusual housewares and local art, to a sleek pair of mules by Matisse, quirky earrings by dconstruct and the shelves featuring a conga line of multi-hued sunnies.
Weird and Wonderful Emporium
Lovecraft Arts and Sciences Council
65 Weybosset St., Providence, 264-0838, weirdprovidence.org
H.P. Lovecraft wrote that “searchers after horror haunt strange, far places.” But horror — and H.P. — aficionados can get their fix at a strange, nearby place, the Lovecraft Arts and Sciences Council at the Arcade (which was likely frequented by the author himself). It’s a bookstore/emporium/event center for weird fiction fanatics run by the collective that presents NecronomiCon Providence — and has the Cthulhu seal
Andrea S. Keogh Art and Design
59 Bellevue Ave., Newport, 340-9977, akeoghartanddesign.com
This intimate gallery has been making its mark since its debut in 2018 with a series of themed shows, beginning with “Seeing Red,” and “Sand and Sea,” featuring work by Hudson River School artists, and more recently, “Dogs and Co.” with whimsical paintings and sculptures depicting man’s best friend. With thirty-five years in the art business, Keough brings her experience from London and New York to Newport, with a space that features modern and contemporary art from around the world.
Mike’s Estate Services
65 Manchester St., West Warwick, 825-7670, mikesestateservices.com
Mike’s original 10,000 square feet in an old mill is crammed with hundreds of antique treasures, from mid-century Danish teak sofa tables to luscious Oriental rugs. (Last time we were there, we spied a stunning modern glass top table and four Callagaris chairs for $850 that would look perfect in our kitchen.) The newly opened upstairs showroom is chockfull of less expensive collectibles, kitchenware, posters and tchotchkes. A plus: the savvy social media staff answers shoppers’ questions on Facebook within a few hours.
New Women’s Boutique, Upstate
Slater Clothing Co.
11 N. Main St., North Smithfield, 229-9308, slaterclothingco.com
We always find something to covet at this sweet little boutique that carries locally made, reasonably priced jewelry, clothing and home accessories. Last time we looked, there was a statement necklace by designer Nicole Romano, an eye-catching gold cuff from Jessica Ricci, sunny note cards by Jayne Guertin and chunky pottery from Noon Design. The clothing racks are also easy to browse, with capris by M-Rena, luxurious wraps by Hopely Clothing, and other made-in-America duds.
Hey Girl Décor
Nicole Ketchum’s colorful custom acrylic chandeliers hang around the Disney Corner Store in Disney Springs and Mattel’s headquarters in gold, hot pink and turquoise, some shaped like octopuses. The quirky conversation starters, which don’t need lights, are available at prices ranging from $59.99 to $89.99 on her website, perfect for brightening up a kid’s room or home bar.
Art Glass Gallery
The Glass Station
446 Main St., South Kingstown, 788-2500, theglassstationstudio.com
Glass artists Eben Horton and Jennifer Nauck have blown down Main Street to a new home with more gallery space to display their glassware and glass jewelry as well as the works of other glassmakers. Visitors can see the artists work at the kiln, take glass-blowing classes and learn about their annual Block Island summer treasure hunt, when 550 glass floats are hidden along the Greenway trails.
Chocolates by Mail
La Maison de Coco
Michele De Luca-Verley is living the sweet life, fashioning truffles and other chocolate concoctions, first for her bricks and mortar Newport store and now as an online business from her Portsmouth barn/commercial kitchen. Her luscious, tea-infused treats of chocolate and local cream hint at Indian spice or Maui jasmine and can be ordered as a monthly subscription for a favorite someone.
Every Occasion Fashion
199 Wayland Ave., Providence, 421-0250, greeninkboutique.com
Providence’s Green Ink is a new outpost for the eponymous Wickford mainstay, and you’d be hard pushed to leave without blowing some dough. The store caters to every occasion, head to toe. Pick up a pretty dress, some sparkly earrings and a pair of peep toe slides. Then grab a Kent Stetson clutch and you’ll be good to go.