Greater City Providence

Retail Update: Bowl & Board closing

In an email today, Bowl & Board announced that they are closing their last two mainland locations, including the store at 217 Westminster Street.


All mainland Bowl & Board stores are out of business after a 43 year run. Lots of stories, lots of hard work, many good times and laughs.

We’ve done business with well over 500 vendors and Craftspeople from all over the world. We’ve employed over 250 people from all walks of life. We’ve opened and closed stores all over New England, and weathered several recessions, but cannot lick this one. There’s just too much retail out there, and the costs of doing business these days makes it impossible to keep the doors open.

We’ll miss the experience, the sights, the sounds, the smells, and the people that all came together to make Bowl & Board what it was.

If you need to contact us for any reason please send an email to:

All special orders will be honored. Shoot us an email so that we can get in touch and schedule a time for you to pick up your order.

Thanks so much for all the support over this loooong run.

And Thank You Vendors! We wish you the best.

The closings in Providence and Somerville leave Bowl & Board with just one location in Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • Wasn’t sure where else to post this. When did OOP and Design Within Reach go out of business on Westminster Street? Happened rather suddenly. Anyone know the story here? There was no sign on the store windows.

  • OOP packed up a truck at the beginning of the month I think. No word on where, if anywhere, it went.

  • I believe Oop still has a location in South County Commons.

    Design Within Reach closed a month or so ago. They’ve had major issues as a company and a new CEO was just brought in. Rumors in the design community were that the whole company was going to go Chapter 11, but that hasn’t happened yet. A contraction of retail outlets is a reflection of DWR as a company just as much if not moreso as it is a reflection on the retail environment in Providence.

    The big problem with DWR is that visitors to the retail locations took the name literally, then had massive sticker shock upon entering the store. In the last decade, mass market retailers like Target have reacted to the designer trend with truly affordable designer label items at price points DWR could not compete with. It was neither considered to be in a league with the high end designer brands, nor able to compete with the discounter designer labels.

    I think this was all a similar problem for Bowl & Board. When they first opened years ago, if you wanted a fancy Oxo utensil, you had to go to a specialty store like Bowl & Board to find one. Now, consumers go into Bowl & Board (or the like) and see the price tag and think, “I can get that (or something like it) for half as much at Bed, Bath, & Beyond.”

    I’ve heard murmurs about restaurants coming to both the Bowl & Board and DWR spaces, but of course lease negotiations (especially in this economy) could go anywhere. So we’ll just have to wait to see if a sign pops up in the windows.

  • I know that Opp opened up at Legacy Place in Dedham MA. I hope they move back to the area, but at least they didn’t disappear like Bowl & Board.

  • TD Bank just put up “coming soon” signs in the windows of both the old Dress Barn and Quiznos. Looks like its going to be a big branch. Of course that begs the question, how many banks does downtown need and what happens to the streetlife at night when all these banks are closed.

  • Looks like a shoe store is going into Oops old location. Funny. Wasn’t the first retailer in there a shoe store?

  • I believe it was a shoe store… The New York Times had an article on the bank phenomenon you mention, discussing urban streetscapes in the NY Metro area that are just clusters of banks now, with no retail or pedestrian activity after 3PM when they all close… Sad…

    I think this recession is going to mark the end of a decades long retail trend and really kill any non-big box retailers. There really isn’t any competition *between* big boxes anymore… Who competes with Best Buy? Only Amazon really, and they’re exclusively online… Barnes and Noble and Borders are both hovering on the brink due to ebook sales…

    It seems like anything not big-box or internet is not going to make it overall… The only other things that seem to work on street fronting retail are restaurants and cafes…

  • It was Cathers & Coyne:

    Where Cathers & Coyne used to be
    Photo by Jef Nickerson

    One of the first new stores to open in the renewed Westminster retail district, they were based out of Newport and simply could not make their high-end product work on Westminster at the time. Not sure if they still have their Newport store or not.

  • Hopefully, this new store will cater to the working crowd and local student population. They should get together with Queen of Hearts and create a package deal: shoes and a dress.

  • Do we know if it is men’s or women’s or both? I could walk downtown and look, but there’s a hurricane coming!

    I HATE buying shoes. If I could do it outside the mall, it would be slightly less horrible.

  • Saw on the web that American Apparel closed their store on Weybosset Street. Sad, as I bought a good deal of my clothes there. Hope this is not a harbinger of other retail challenges.

  • There’s a sign up in the window that an Alex & Ani store is coming soon.

    I think the American Apparel closing is more to do with AA as a company than anything to do with Providence.

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