Empire Emporium Creates Business Space for Vendors on Block Island

This new vintage and artisan market houses more than fifty different vendors from all over New England.
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Empire Emporium on Block Island.

Vintage and artisan vendors gained a new home on Block Island to share their creations with tourists and locals with the opening of Empire Emporium.

This new market houses more than fifty different vendors from all over New England in an effort to bring more small businesses to the island. When Empire Emporium general manager Heather Wolfenden saw an advertisement in the Block Island Times for a small retail space for rent back in March, she jumped at the opportunity to create a space to bring the community “a unique collection of premium vintage and hand-crafted goods.”

“From local handmade beauty products to out-of-this-world vintage tees, we’ve got something for everyone at the Empire Emporium,” Wolfenden says.

The opening of this emporium creates an additional business opportunity for vendors, which is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Due to COVID-19 regulations, most markets were canceled, leaving lots of small businesses with extra inventory and a significant loss of income,” Wolfenden says. “We are fortunately able to provide a unique opportunity at this point in time for these small businesses to come on board and sell their merchandise at a retail storefront.”

Empire Emporium is unique and different from other markets because of its vendor co-ops and vintage, artisan and local elements. The emporium is located in the Empire Theatre, owned by Gary Pollard, which was built in the late 1800s as a roller skating rink and creates a great space for creativity and a “one-of-a-kind” shopping experience.

The emporium will include vendors such as Noon Design Shop, City Sparrow Designs, Project Object Vintage, Class A Cornhole and many more.

According to Wolfenden, the opening weekend for the emporium was a huge success and received a positive response from both locals and visitors. She is glad to have contributed to creating and offering sustainable clothing options and other products to those on the island.

“Our patrons are grateful to have a market like ours to ‘finally’ be able to shop for vintage clothing,” Wolfenden says. “I find that as a community, we’re shifting towards supporting local businesses over big box retailers. As fast fashion is slowly falling to the wayside, sustainable shopping has taken the forefront. We’re so pleased to be involved with this movement.”

For a full list of vendors and more information about Empire Emporium visit the website or follow them on Instagram @empireemporiumblockisland.

 Inside the Empire Theatre, 17 Water St., New Shoreham, empireemporiumblockisland.com

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