The Women of the West End

westNothing sounds more terrifying or satisfying to me than starting a small business. There is a certain dedication needed to turn a passion into a business opportunity and the risk can far outweigh the rewards. Though if done right, those rewards can be plentiful. The West End Girls is a group supporting female-owned businesses from Broadway to Westminster St.  Featuring 13 local shops selling everything from haircuts to piñatas, this area has nearly everything a shopper could ask for.

In the cut-throat world of business, there is always a sense of competition to get the consumer’s dollar. After speaking with most of the West End Girls, however, I was happily surprised to see a sense of community rather than competition among the owners. There is a sense of pride in being a West End Girl, with everyone helping each other and offering advice. There is a competition for business, but it is a communal business. There is hope that one consumer will go to the West End to shop at one store, but will see everything else the area has to offer and make numerous stops.

Cluck, which opened in June 2013, started as a means to fill a void that owner Drake saw for people who love growing, raising and making food. “The West Side is a center for community gardens, backyard growers, bees and microflocks,” Drake said. “Cluck serves as a resource for these urban farmers.” When asked what’s special about being a business owner on the West Side, Drake responded, “I am inspired by my fellow small businesses and their ability to be fearless, original and supportive of each other.” Cluck is located at 399 Broadway. Store hours are Tuesday – Saturday from 10am – 6pm and Sunday 12pm – 6pm.  You can call Cluck at 401-274-1160 or visit online at cluckri.com

Hall’s on Broadway is a vintage and consignment store that sells art, home furnishings, fashion, textiles, antiques and jewelry. Starting as a hobby, Hall’s was in Warren for 12 years before moving to its current location five years ago. “Broadway is a great location and the people are really all so different,” owner Mary Ellen Hall said. Hall doesn’t look at surrounding businesses as competition, but instead views them as a way to bring more people to her store. “Other businesses bring more customers for all of us,” Hall says of the West End Girls and other businesses. “Some people think we don’t want the competition, but we are all a little different and what one has the other doesn’t. We are all pretty friendly.” The store is located at 145 Broadway. Hours are Sunday from 12pm – 5pm and Wednesday – Saturday from 12pm – 6pm. You can contact Hall’s on Broadway by calling 401-272-0000 or visiting online at etsy.com/shop/HallsOnBroadway

Joyride Traders is a vintage and modern clothing consignment store that opened this past June. Owner Brigitte Shaffer mulled over the idea for a few years before deciding to take the plunge. “I found myself facing a precipice,” Shaffer said. “Jumping into an arena of high risk and uncertainty, or remaining on the safe plateau.” Living for the challenge, Shaffer has called Joyride Traders an “electrifying experience.” Finding the store by accident (her boyfriend took a wrong turn and saw a store with a “For Rent” sign), Shaffer is now able to be sort of a full-time shopper. “Now, if I find shoes that I love but don’t fit me, I can buy them anyway!” Joyride Traders is happy to be in a spot like the West End, with Shaffer finding the other businesses and customers “remarkably friendly and supportive.”
 The store is located at 181 Courtland St. Store hours are Monday through Wednesday 12 – 6pm, Thursday and Friday 3 – 8pm, and Saturday 12 – 6pm. You can call Joyride Traders at 401-274-1095 or visit online at joyridetraders.com

MINT is a thrift shop that features personally selected clothes and handmade accessories. When owner Jay Davani’s hand-selected thrifted items she wore on her Instagram feed became a hit, she realized that she had a business idea, and she opened on May 13, 2014. Davani loves having MINT located on the West Side (or “Best Side,” as she calls it). She felt welcomed by surrounding businesses and neighbors immediately. “We felt at home the first day we set foot on the West Side. Everyone helps each other out — we all know that the more businesses pop up, the better it is for everyone. This isn’t always the case in businesses. I think it’s unique to the west side.” Davani feels that the West End Girls are doing something unique. “We are all strong female leaders, bringing the talents that we have to our customers and I would say we are a force to be reckoned with. Instead of competing against each other, we work together. That makes us really powerful. None of us are doing the same exact thing, but we complement each other well.” The store is located at 379 Broadway. Store hours are Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30pm – 8:30pm and Saturday from 12pm – 6pm. You can call MINT at 401-400-0936 or visit online at mintonbroadway.com

Mother Mystic Spiritual Apothecary is Providence’s premier metaphysical store, featuring gifts and services that cater to the occult, alternative health and witchcraft community. Owner Rev. Susan Breton Asselin saw a need for this business and wanted to provide a “safe environment for people to find solutions to everyday problems and create empowering life changes.” Asselin is having a positive impact on the lives of her customers. She is there to be a guide for people with some hefty life decisions on their hands. “I cannot begin to describe the how it feels knowing people trust me enough to put their deepest life concerns in my hands.”  Being born on the West End, Asselin is a “West End Girl in the truest sense of the word. I’m just living out my destiny.” She is happy to watch this area thrive with all the unique businesses. The store is located at 179 Dean St. Store hours are Tuesday – Friday from 12pm – 7pm and Saturday from 12pm – 6pm. You can call Mother Mystic Spiritual Apothecary at 401-353-3099 or visit online at mothermystic.com

Multiverse Comics is a comic book store that also sells collectables and pinball! Opening in October 2013 because there was a need for a comic book shop in the area, Multiverse Comics features a “growing collection of local and independent comics.” Owner Ryan Marie Farley is excited about their customer base and choice of location. “We love the businesses near us and are proud to be on Broadway and to be a small part of its steady growth,” she said. Being a first business, Farley has appreciated the advice received from neighboring businesses. The store is located at 265 Broadway. Hours are Sunday and Monday 12pm – 6pm and Wednesday – Saturday 11am – 7pm. You can contact Multiverse Comics by calling 401-223-2112.

Rocket to Mars is a vintage shop that sells all sorts of items from the 1920s through the 1980s. After years and years of thrift shopping, owner Jennifer bought an abandoned building, gutted it and opened Rocket to Mars in 2003. Jennifer is a true West Ender, having lived there all of her life. While she loves “the energy and feel of the neighborhood,” she has seen an exciting boom in the area’s businesses in the past two years. While challenges include no regular paychecks and a constant work schedule, Jennifer finds customers leaving “happy and loving the things they find here.” She also loves being self-employed. “I can never go back to working for someone else,” she says. The store is located at 144 Broadway. Hours are Sunday from 11am – 6pm and Wednesday – Saturday from 11am – 7pm. You can call Rocket to Mars at 401-274-0905.

White Buffalo is a shopping and retail store that sells a little bit of everything. After successfully functioning as a PopUp shop at markets, owner Dana Williams opened White Buffalo on November 30, 2014. “People liked what we had to offer and I wanted to make sure they got it,” Williams said of the items she sold. A collector at heart, Williams gets to “scratch that itch” when it comes to finding merchandise to sell, which she says is the most fun part of her job. She also sells her own jewelry line. Williams has seen the West End blossom into an area of friendly and diverse businesses. “This is becoming a destination where you can stroll along and score some great clothes, gifts, vinyl, etc, and take a break for some good coffee and food!” Williams loves being a West End Girl. Everyone is supportive and gives advice when needed. “We are all working together to bring positive attention. I am a small business owner, but I feel that I am working underneath an umbrella far greater than myself,” Williams says of being a West End Girl. “I have a community of strong women who have my back and know I have theirs.” It is located at 168 Broadway. Store hours are Sunday from 12pm – 4pm and Wednesday – Saturday from 12pm – 6pm. You can contact White Buffalo by calling 401-861-2648 or visiting white-buffalo.myshopify.com

A Facebook page has been created to help promote the West End Girls.  Like the stores that have banded together, the page is a community; a one-stop place consumers can go to get updates on all the stores owned by the West End Girls. Links are shared and supports are given, not just promoting one store, but all of them. This truly is the place to “share stories, events, photos or info from the west/best side.” facebook.com/westendgirlspvd

Other West End Girls stores include:

Suite Tarts, 150 Broadway

Shop Bananas, 381 Broadway

Reliable Gallery, 885 Westminster St.

The Space Yoga, 1155 Westminster St.

Leviathan, 745 Westminster St.

La Tiendita, 300 Broadway

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