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Hometown stores brighten Christmas shopping

By Jane Fusco

Major retail stores have been decking the halls since Halloween and advertising extended Black Friday deals. The big box stores decorated their large appliances and electronics with holly and bows to remind shoppers that these items have arrived just in time for the holidays.

Though these displays are enticing, many Rhode Islanders are preferring to shop locally, a trend that has gained momentum in the past few years.

Shopping locally lets business owners reinvest their profits into the community by hiring local employees and contracting with local professionals.

Recent studies have shown that for every $100 earned by a local business, about $68 goes back to the local community. By comparison, for every $100 earned at a big box store, only $43 goes back into the community because they don’t have to spend money on local services or contract with local services, so the money is not put back into the community.

Joanne Bianco of Warwick has a large family and a long Christmas list. “I like to buy children’s gifts and clothing at Mod Mama in Garden City (Cranston). You don’t find their merchandise anywhere else,” she said. “And the Bead Sting in Coventry is great for bags, jewelry and scarves.”

Christiana Provencal of Cranston is a longtime customer of Spectrum India on Thayer Street in Providence. “I shopped there when I was a teenager. They carry some unique items,” she said. Spectrum India opened in 1967 as Emporium India, and was well-known for its eclectic merchandise. Jagdish Sachdev still owns the store and is one of the most popular merchants in the area.

“I applied for a job there when I was about 17. I was not hired. I told the owner the story one day and he said he was sorry about that and told me to pick out some jewelry,” Provencal said.

As more communities have begun to understand the value of local shopping, the selections have increased so that the offerings are not the same as every other store across the country. Essentially, local shops are a creative gift-giver’s haven.

Francine Mangiante Medeiros finds the Hopscotch Room on Mineral Spring Avenue in North Providence to be a pleasant shopping experience, especially during the holidays. “There are three shops within walking distance to each other and their Christmas store is amazing,” she said.

Sharon Piscitelli of Cranston said that her go-to store for accessory items is Rhode Island Wholesale Jewelry and Fashion Accessories on Atwood Avenue in Johnston. “It has exactly what I am looking for,” she said. “The selection is large and there are accessories to match any outfit, plus great novelty items.”

Warwick’s Kim and Steven Salzillo like Wishes Under Wraps gift shop on Geo. Waterman Road in Johnston, especially for teacher’s gifts and decorative items. Green Ink Boutique in North Kingstown is another local favorite of the Salzillos.

Additionally, local businesses support nonprofit organizations and the good work they do for our communities. Studies show that nonprofits receive 250 percent more support from small businesses than large ones in the communities.

Many cities and towns around the state host holiday strolls where there are plenty of small shops, one-of-kind items, and decorations galore for the shopper who wants to avoid the malls. North Scituate, Newport, Wickford and Providence’s Thames Street have regularly scheduled events.

For the best last minute gifts and stocking stuffers or for that unusual gift for the person who has everything, shop locally. Not only will you have a better shopping experience, but you’ll be supporting our communities.

Check out the buylocalri.org if you’re looking for a particular type of store or item. Happy shopping!

Buying Local

Here are some ways that shopping

local helps the community:

Keeps profits for the community – Sales tax funds our communities and provides vital services such as police and fire protection, trash collection, road repairs and sign maintenance.
Investment in the community – Local business owners are less susceptible to the national economic downturns and are more likely to remain open in a tough economy.
Locally made items – Local businesses sell local products which can helps establish and preserve the identity of the community.
Personal connections – Shoppers get to know store owners, which can make for a better shopping experience.
Better Service – Local owners are more invested in their store and products and typically take the time to know their customers.
Unique Products – Local stores carry inventory that may not be found in chain stores.
Community Pride – Shopping locally shows pride in the community and helps protect the businesses that make our communities unique.