Across the river and up the hill from the Providence Biltmore Hotel, Thayer Street runs through the middle of Brown University. A hangout for students from RISD and Brown, here you will find a funky college vibe with vintage shops, indie stores, chain stores like Urban Outfitters, eateries, etc. A small selection:
What Cheer?, 80 Angell St. (Corner of Thayer and Angell, Upstairs), 401-861-4244. Sells Vinyl Records + CDs + Antiques + Vintage Stuff. From a shopper’s review: “This little place is like stepping down into a secret room that only you and a few other special people know about. It’s one of the only antique/collectibles shops I’ve ever seen with a really great paper ephemera collection– menus, postcards, letterhead, etc. They also have a really good selection of vintage eyeglasses, and adorably organized little bits and baubs like old hotel keys, key chains, furniture hardware, and game pieces.”
Spectrum-India Inc, 252 Thayer St., 401-421-1010. Indian imports and and an array of other interesting items. The owner seems to be universally adored by local shoppers. “If you’re looking for an experience… have Jagdish do your handwriting analysis right there in the shop – $15 or something. You’ll be asked to meditate for a little while in a chair in the back before you write freely, plus write your ABC’s. Then you hang behind the counter and off he goes, mostly from memory but he refers to cards as well to explain how he’s reaching his interpretations. Anyone’s who’s been in the shop knows the man is masterfully intuitive, genuine, and also intense, so that all applies here.”
Pleasant Surprise, 297 Thayer St., 401-273-1202. “Always an eclectic mix of fun gifts, home accessories, quirky books, cards, and toys. Our design sensibility combines the contemporary with the nostalgic.”
South Main Street
South Main Street is at the base of College Hill. John’s previous post pointed us to a Boston Globe article highlighting the eclectic shopping experience here. You might also want to watch this video from the South Main Street Neighborhood Association.
Marc Allen Fine Clothiers, 200 South Main St., 401-453-0025. High end men’s store offering custom-made suits and ready to wear pieces of the highest quality style and craftsmanship.
Shoppe Pioneer, 253 South Main St., 401-274-7467. “A fashion and lifestyle boutique featuring indie designers, contemporary & vintage fashion and hand picked treasures”
Hegeman & Co., 361 South Main St., 401-831-6812. Fine jewelry, including custom design and craftsmanship on nearly any style in the store; includes estate and designer pieces.
Also south of College Hill and to the east of South Main is the Fox Point neighborhood. Wickenden Street packs loads of independent shops, art galleries, and restaurants into a surprisingly small space. From an article by Jan Faust Dane: “It is a narrow and compact strip, about 1/3 of a mile from stem to stern. If you wanted to throw the ultimate, but walkable, scavenger hunt, this is where you’d do it. You couldn’t get obscure enough: “‘bring me one guppy, a towel rod, a tube of indigo gouache, two peonies, an eel sushi roll and a picture of yourself with a bronze bust of George M. Cohan.’ That would take about eleven minutes.”
Examples of some of the interesting shops you’ll find there:
Adler’s Hardware, 173 Wickenden St., 401-421-5157. A longstanding family business, Adler’s features the predictable hardware staples, but also to home design supplies that include fine decorative hardware, wallpaper, fabrics, and C2 paints.
The Curatorium, 197 Wickenden St., 401-453-4080. “Part design store, part Natural History Museum, part small-town gift shop, The Curatorium offers something for everyone, and gifts for all occasions, in all price ranges.
Curiosities, 460 Wickenden St., 401-421-0023. “Among the many curious items found here is one-of-a-kind costume and vintage beaded jewelry. Also, old photos or “Instant Relatives”, records, ephemera and lots more!” From a Yelp review: “Entering Curiosities is a little like entering a shop if it was run by someone who was once on the show Hoarders.”
Small Circle, 464 Wickenden St., 401-437-8338. “A community marketplace of 100% locally made products.”
Olympic Records, 580 Wickenden St., 401-301-9266. This record store sells vinyl only, specializing in “new and used indie rock and the like.” Bring some quarters for their vintage pinball machines.