Tag Archives | Retail Updates

Retail Update: Pop Up

Photo from Calico Blog

A retail trend that has been around for a while in bigger cities has been making its way to Providence recently, the Pop Up shop. Waste Not Want Not popped up for a while over the summer on Westminster, and from what I understand they are continuing with some other non-traditional retailing. And coming soon to the space next to Oop! we have Calico. Calico is a successful vintage clothing store located in New Bedford that will be popping up on Westminster on November 27th and plans to hang around through New Years.

We’ve secured the most amazing space in the heart of the city, and we can’t wait to stock it with our most covetable vintage boots, bags, coats, and accessories! We’ll also be offering the best selection of show-stopping, jaw-dropping, one-of-a-kind vintage party dresses around! Just in time for the holidays!

Do we need to say it again, in these economic times, blah blah blah… Well, anyway, it is a cool concept to see make it’s way to Providence, if it can keep going we’ll maintain vitality and interest on Westminster. And there is always the possiblity that a Pop Up shop will gain traction and stick around.


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.


Retail Update: Hudson Street Deli grand opening (10/03)

View Larger Map

There was much sadness on the West Side when Hudson Street Market closed shop and moved to new digs in the Nightclub District*. But then the sadness abated when Hudson Street Deli was announced. The Deli has been open since mid-September, but they are having their grand opening celebration this Saturday (10/03). The grand opening will also feature gluten free baked goods from our friends at FreeFlour Bakery.

The festivities run from 12 to 2pm at 68 Hudson Street.

*Did I invent Nightclub District? Do we like it? It is shorter than Johnson & Wales Hootchies Heading to The Club District.


Gourmet Heaven Opens!

Gourmet Heaven Grand Opening

Proprietor, Mr. Cho, welcomes us to his new store

Gourmet Heaven opened today on Weybosset Street Downcity with many dignitaries, Downcity residents, press, and passersby in attendance. After Buff Chase said a few words and thanked everyone who made it possible, the ribbon was cut and we headed inside.

Gourmet Heaven Grand Opening

Gourmet Heaven Grand Opening

Inside the store is very nice with wooden cabinets, glass coolers, a large deli counter, and a prepared food section (the interior work was done by Site Specific, LLC and the architect was Durkee, Brown, Viveiros & Werenfels Architects both of Providence).

Gourmet Heaven Grand Opening

Gourmet Heaven Grand Opening

Gourmet Heaven Grand Opening

Prices seem quite reasonable, surprisingly so for it’s Downcity location. I’m planning to head back at lunchtime to grab a sandwich.

Gourmet Heaven Grand Opening

Photos by Jef Nickerson

Mr. Cho promises more ice cream is on it’s way. 🙂


Retail Update: Mall CVS Open

As I’m sure many walking or driving by have noticed, the sidewalk fronting mall CVS has opened at the Francis St/Memorial Blvd intersection. All of the J&W students who will be living at Capitol Cove will now have all of their pharmaceutical needs met.

Also, while not directly Providence related, I thought I’d mention that we’re far from the only place having significant retail turnover and, in fact, we may be having less than some other places. My wife and friends in the Boston metro report lots of changes in Brookline and Cambridge. In fact, my wife was in Brookline last night and found that two of her favorite establishments there have closed in the last few weeks alone…


Retail Update: Plus one, minus one


Due to open Saturday is an ice cream store on Atwells Avenue, in the location in the photo above at Dean and Atwells. The last tenant in here was Al & Betty’s which was a pretty good greasy spoon (good enough to get me out of bed on the weekends for french toast). After a death in the family, Al & Betty’s closed down, that was a couple (few?) years ago. At one point someone was renovating the storefront with the idea of placing a fish mongers in there. They never completed the renovations and never opened. So while the rest of Atwells has been filling out quite nicely in recent years, even during the current economic downturn, this prime corner location has been empty.

I’m very much looking forward to an ice cream store steps from my house.

The minus one sadly is Benders Caffe which we Cheered a few months back for their green practices (and yummy panini). I’ve noticed they’ve been intermittently open in recent weeks, and walking by today I saw the For Sale sign in the window. Sorry to see you go Benders.

In the almost plus one category is Gourmet Heaven. Stock is being loaded in and I read somewhere (I forget where now) that we should expect a soft opening on June 7th.


Retail Update: Snookers & More…

Snookers: I’m not sure how “old news” this is, but Snookers sports bar is listed to be “coming soon” at about 44 Ashburton Street on the other side of the 95 overpass from Kelly’s Car Wash. It’ll be right next to the, um, antique store and near the, um, Subway, and the, um, Marriott hotel and the, um, Mathematics Society, making for one interesting group of neighbors coexisting there.

Smith Hill Laundromat: Many people have fantasized (well, at least a few people have) about how cool a business could go into the former auto repair space that defines the corner of the retail square at the intersection of Smith St. and Chalkstone Ave. across from NY System Hotdogs. Well, in the category of “better than nothing,” a laundromat is replacing the closed mattress store. To its credit, it’s always good when neighborhoods get new service businesses and they’re nicely redoing the facade with floor to ceiling windows that I’m sure will be well lit, giving a much better sense of life to that normally sleepy corner.

Butterfield: Having finished their move from downtown, Butterfield has opened in Wayland Square.

East Side Creamery: This ice cream shop has opened in the closed Knight Art Gallery space in the newly vibrant Ives Street retail area on the East Side and was packed when my wife and I were recently there. Of note, this is the second art gallery to close on the East Side this year (the Ruggieri space also closed in Wayland Square).

Beadworks: They are, interestingly enough, moving from Thayer Street (previously announced) to 16 Bassett Street in the Jewelry District.


Retail Update: Asian Palace Opens on North Main

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Speaking of the “Retail to Restaurant” trend we were all debating, the newest example is located nearby on North Main Street (1184, across from East Side Urgent Care). This is where the long closed (and cutely named) Off Track Bedding outlet (whose empty storefront was captured by Google Streetview above) has been replaced by Asian Palace, which opened this past Friday. Should the photo above scare you, I’ll add that they’ve substantially gutted and updated the building.

Their menu is what I personally refer to “RI Pan-Asian 2.0.” What seems to distinguish Asian Palace, as far as I can see, is their hours. They’re open to 11 PM Mon-Thurs, and until 1 AM on Friday and Saturday, much later than almost every other ethnic dining option I can think of, Asian or otherwise, in the entire metro. This will likely work well for them given their close location to Miriam Hospital and its continuous stream of workers around the clock.

So, a question: Does anyone know if this pan-Asian default for restaurants is a RI only trend? If so, why? When I go home to NY, I don’t find this… The restaurants there, both in the city and suburbs, are solo-cuisine for the most part. Same thing in my recent travels around the US. Why only here?

To read more about the menu type and my very brief review, click below:

Continue Reading →


Retail Updates: Almost Heaven


Future home of Gourmet Heaven at Weybosset and Union Streets.

The plywood veil has come down from what any day now should be the home of Downcity’s new market, Gourmet Heaven. The market will be located in the ground floor of RISD’s Fletcher Building at Weybosset and Union Streets.

Gourmet Heaven has two locations in New Haven, Connecticut and this is what they have to say about themselves on their website:

We have all the gourmet foods you are looking for with specialty products from around the world. We carry organic snacks and meals, imported candies and nuts, as well as all of your everyday grocery essentials. Gourmet Heaven brings to market the finest food items available… whether it be from our always fresh hot/cold buffet tables, our deli, or the many different groceries we offer!

I’ve been describing it as the 7-Eleven version of Whole Foods. It is not a full size full service grocery store, but it does have a lot of what one would need from a grocery store. Good news for the people who live Downcity, and the people like me, looking for a place to stop on the walk home to pick a few things up.

I don’t know the exact date they plan to open, but it looks like not too long now. The exterior looks terrific, hats off to the architects, Durkee Brown, and the contractor, Site Specific of Providence.


Retail Update: Whoa! Cold Stone Creamery Downtown

1csI was walking on Westminster last night and noticed a Cold Stone Creamery sign up at the Tim Horton’s coffee location at the intersection with Dorrance. A quick Google search confirmed that the two companies recently announced that they are expanding their co-branding initiative after trials were successful.

Given that an ice cream store has been high on most people’s wish lists for downtown, this is a positive development of sorts. I had hoped it would be a local (or at least RI) effort and hoped it would take up its own storefront (rather than shacking up with Tim Horton’s), but given our current economy, it’s better than nothing. Now people will be able to pop over from the recently opened Boston Sports Club down the street directly to Cold Stone to balance out exercise and, ah, ice cream…


Retail Update: Seven Stars expanding eastward

06030 - Site Plan - 2008-06-11

Providence Business News reports today that Seven Stars Bakery is planning a new locations at Rumford Center in East Providence.

Seven Stars currently has location at Hope Street on the East Side, Broadway on the West Side, and a bakery facilities at Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket.

In this economic climate, it is good to see that a local business is able to expand and thrive.

Above site plan from Rumford Center


Retail Update: CVS at the Mall moving


In the windows of the large, street corner, sidewalk-fronting retail space that wraps around where Memorial Boulevard meets Francis Street are large “coming soon” CVS/Pharmacy signs. The pharmacy-less CVS on the third floor of the mall will be closing and moving to this new street level location with a pharmacy.

There is also a CVS in Kennedy Plaza without a pharmacy. Word is that this CVS will remain. Last year there were reports that the CVS in Kennedy Plaza was planning to expand into the neighboring retail space on Westminster Street (formerly occupied by the Christian Science Reading Room, now the home of the Boston Sports Club retail office and ArtTix). It is unclear what the status of those plans are now.

Certainly one of the things that is missing from Downcity being a fully functioning all inclusive neighborhood is a pharmacy. A strong urban neighborhood should have what it’s residents need within a short walking distance. Downcity’s residence now have to travel to North Main Street or Atwells Avenue to find a full service pharmacy.

One concern about this mall location is that the specific site has walkability issues.

Continue Reading →


Retail Update: Bubble Tea House

2008 will be long remembered for some seriously miserable economic events. One local bright spark in 2008, however, has been the quiet opening of some seriously interesting food and dining establishments. Ebisu, United BBQ, Tini’s, the crepe place on Weybosset, Noodles 102, and Farmstead Downcity (to name but a few) have helped to break the New Ameritalian lock on the Providence dining scene that we’ve seen in the last few years.

One absolutely fascinating and very tasty addition to this list is the recently opened Bubble Tea House in Canonicus Square (intersection of Westminster and Cranston near Classical/Central High Schools, italicized to encourage all of us to use that term more). For those of you who haven’t had it, bubble tea is a Taiwanese drink craze that’s come to the US via California and NYC that usually contains tea, milk, sugar, and small pasta like tapioca gummy balls that are sucked up through a large straw. I’m a a huge bubble tea fan from my years in Minnesota (the Twin Cities had several Asian establishments that made amazing bubble tea) and I searched Providence in vein when I arrived. Sure Tealuxe had it on the menu, but the flavors were weak, the consistency thin, and the tapioca balls hard and chewy. Slowly, several restaurants here started to add it to their menus with varying quality, culminating in my favorite to date offered by Sushi Express on Thayer Street.

Now open adjacent to Classical Cafe is Bubble Tea House, operated by two brothers with franchising dreams. The bubble tea is outstanding, especially the tapioca pearls which are likely the softest and tastiest in the area. Flavors are strong and the consistency of the drink (often a problem with local outfits who can’t get a good ice/milk/tea balance) was perfect. I once heard a chef say on TV that they want menu items that are beyond good, they want product that’s “cravable.” These are definitely addictive drinks to crave.

The outfit is slick inside and their bubble tea menu exhaustive. Knowing their young audience nearby (only slated to grow once the technical school across the street opens) they have karaoke nights and video gaming nights (a PS3 is hooked up into to a huge TV screen on the wall – why haven’t more youth oriented cafes thought of this?) on their calendar. An article in Motif on the brother and their business is here

Slowly, Canonicus Square and its Westminster environment is becoming an interesting place, yet another funky and hip piece to the West End puzzle. The biggest challenge will be getting the word out that Bubble Tea House, White Electric, Classical Cafe, a new brick oven pizza restaurant, and the new Ada Books location (to say nothing of recent Broadway additions) are destinations of serious worth to residents of all neighborhoods.

Bubble tea photo (cc) su-lin


Retail Update: Jac’s Wraps Coming to Medical Campus

jacThe Pearl Street Cafe, which recently closed, was an old wooden structure that had an isolated location in back of RI Hospital and Women and Infant’s Hospital. Despite the location, it always seemed quite busy with lunch customers.

The excellent lunch stand there always felt to me like an oasis in the center of an absolute asphalt ocean of depressing surface parking for the hospitals. I always fantasized that the building’s existence had to be due to a little old woman who lived there in the 1920’s shaking her cane at the bulldozers yelling, “Ya’ canna’ make me leave m’ house!” Who knows the real reason…

After being empty for a time, there’s now a sign outside stating that Jac’s Wraps, of Pawtucket-renovated-gas-station across from the Modern Diner fame, is opening up there. It looks like renovation is just beginning.

That’s great news, as I’m a fan of both Jac’s and that site at 78 Pearl St (I wasn’t kidding about that site being in the middle of acres of parking: Use the “mouse-look” feature of the map below to look around).

View Larger Map. Logo from Jac’s Wraps website, map from Google

Update by Jef: I didn’t want to start a new thread for this, so I’ll just tack it onto Bret’s post.

Renovation work has been going on at the former Coin-o-matic on Atwells Ave. for some time. Someone finally put a sign in the window to let us all know what they are doing:


Photo by Jef Nickerson

Seeing as it is right up the block from my house, I’m hoping Mr. Pocket’s grilled sandwiches will be yummy.


Retail Update: Pleasant Surprise, Thayer

plesant3I thought I would quickly add that Pleasant Surprise, which I wrote previously was coming to Thayer Street is now open and the store, at 297 Thayer Street (where Oop! and Only in RI used to be), looks quite bright, vibrant, and appealing (photo above is of their Newport store).

Also, off topic, I was at Craftland last night and there is some great work and gifts by local artists there. A must stop for everyone still shopping…


Retail Update: New Wayland Square Vacancies

Photo by Bret Ancowitz

A quick walk through Wayland Square revealed three new storefront vacancies faster than you can say, “national economic calamity:”

Liberty Travel:
This very high profile site (corner of Angell and Wayland) has departed for what they believe must be greener pastures in the Warwick Mall (seriously) and are merging with their operation there.

This lunchtime retail spot, which often felt like it was open for about an hour or two a day and also has a prominent Angell St location, has closed for good. Perhaps longer hours may have helped?

77 South Angell:
The sales office for this luxury condominium has presumably moved out of their retail storefront on Wayland Ave and over to its own building, which is nearing completion.

With these closings, Wayland Square suddenly has about 5 retail storefront vacancies, and that’s before the major recession impact hits 🙁 .

How will our neighborhood commercial centers weather this downturn?


Retail Update: Retail Update

OPEN: Plaid and Stripe – Wayland Square
This is an upscale pet store in the former Ruggieri Gallery near Farmstead on Wayland Avenue between Waterman and Angell.

(Update) COMING SOON (Confirmed!): Pleasant Surprise – Thayer Street
The building where both Oop! and Only in RI used to be has its glass windows postered with flyers from the Pleasant Surprise gift shop currently located in Newport, RI (with their Newport number and address listed). A quick call to their Newport store confirmed that they are indeed coming soon to that Thayer spot as that storefront seems perpetually reserved for gift shops…

(CORRECTION) MOVED!!: Ada Books – Westminster (West End) Street
I originally posted that, based upon the closed Dean Street storefront, I thought Ada Books had closed. It was pointed out in the comments section, however, that in actuality, they have moved to 717 Westminster Street right next to White Electric Coffee. I greatly apologize to Brent and Ada for the inaccuracy (although someone might want to tell them to update their own website with the address…). I’m also glad to hear that they’re doing well, with many events planned. Hopefully, one day in the future, The Bishop McVinney Auditorium will be a distant memory and we’ll all be able walk along a unified Westminster Street and do a “coffee and book hop” from Tazza and Symposium Downcity to White Electric and Ada in the West End.