Best of Rhode Island 2020
While the pandemic changed life as we knew it, we’ve still got a lot to celebrate. Check out this list of do-good Rhode Islanders with whom we are lucky to share this place we call home, plus the results of our annual readers’ poll.
Frog and Toad
At this local gift store, creative ideas fit to a T.
Mr. Rogers said, in times of struggle, “look for the helpers.” In Rhode Island, you’ll see them in red T-shirts and masks, sipping from red beer cans or using hand sanitizer with red labels emblazoned with “Knock It Off.” Asher Schofield, co-owner (along with wife, Erin) of Frog and Toad on Hope Street in Providence, helms this charitable line. While the tongue-in-cheek gift shop shuttered for the quarantine, Schofield never stopped working. From aiding laid-off staff to supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, Frog and Toad is at the forefront of the helpers in 2020. Here’s how it all began.
Rhode Island Monthly: Where did you get the T-shirt idea?
Asher Schofield: During one of Governor Raimondo’s initial COVID-19 press conferences, she sternly admonished anyone who was not socially distancing to “knock it off” and “shut it down.” It was a wild and exciting moment because you don’t often see an elected official strike that tone. And almost in real time, a friend messaged me saying Frog and Toad should put the sayings on T-shirts and partner with the Rhode Island Foundation to donate proceeds. I reached out to Maret Bondorew, a recently laid-off employee and the artist behind cards and accessories in our Frog and Toad press line. She was down to do a design for the shirt and to have a charitable component; we decided to donate 20 percent of sales to the Rhode Island Foundation’s COVID-19 response fund. The shirt was ready for the public to view about five days later.
RIM: You also partnered with other businesses. What did they add?
A.S.: Proclamation Ale did beer labels; White Electric and New Harvest Coffee, a coffee blend; Palms Sauces, a barbecue sauce; Industrious Spirit Company, a hand sanitizer; Bywater restaurant, a take-home cocktail. Frog and Toad didn’t make a profit — all I asked was that the businesses commit 20 percent of their sales to the COVID response fund. We’ve raised about $64,000 between all of the different releases.
RIM: And that’s not all.
A.S.: For the Knock It Off project, we also made masks and scrubs [proceeds go to frontline workers at Lifespan], and Maret created the Quarantine Alphabet poster comprising what we’ll remember from this time; 30 percent of the poster sales go to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. Plus it serves as a poignant time capsule. frogandtoadstore.com