Cellar Stories: Closing the book… store
When it comes to finding unique used books, Cellar Stories is unmatched. As the largest used and rare bookstore in RI, the store’s 40 years of operation have carved out an important space for book collectors, the stop-by-once-per-year crowd, and everyone in between. In the shop, you’ll find around 70,000 books on most subjects you can think of, giving it a well-rounded selection with options for anyone who steps in the door.
Alongside everything from vintage paperbacks to antiquarian volumes, they have a great selection of collectible ephemera and non-book items, such as posters, postcards, sheet music, photos, magazines, and periodicals. “My favorite sections for shopping would have to be our pretty extensive science fiction section and art book section,” remarked Victoria Forsberg-Lary, store manager. “We also have a lot of sections that get a laugh out of customers, like the ‘antioptimism’ section.”
Victoria makes up one-half of Cellar Stories’ staff alongside Justine Johnson, ever since owner Mike Chandley passed away in 2018. “Mike started Cellar Stories with his best friend Ray because they both thought it’d be fun. They had a very small budget, but they grew and grew. Ray didn’t stay involved after about two years, but Mike kept the shop going up until 2018,” Victoria explained. But it’s true that all good things must come to an end, and our favorite bookstores aren’t an exception: Cellar Stories is shutting its doors at the end of January 2023. Victoria expressed, “We still have so much stock, and we want to give everyone a chance to say goodbye.” Due to the closing, there will be a sale of 50-60% off in December and 70-80% off in January. The December sale is right in time for holiday shopping, so it’s your last chance to grab some basement-priced gifts from this iconic PVD bookstore.
– Lucy Patterson
Just Like Nana’s: Wrangling rugelach
Karen Griffin started pursuing her goals after years of keeping them on hold, endeavoring to bake the best rugelach in Rhode Island. “I didn’t want to make another muffin, another cookie, because I knew I couldn’t do it better than anybody else. When I was looking for a challenge and something to do, I wanted to create a unique product that other people weren’t doing.” That’s where her rugelach came in: a sweet pastry, typically rolled and filled with a fruit or chocolate filling, originating from Jewish communities in Poland.
Just Like Nana’s provides an assortment of rugelach flavors, such as raspberry walnut, apricot walnut, cinnamon, and chocolate, a family recipe made from only the best ingredients. They also offer handmade Paint Your Own Cookies, an edible activity, and flaky cinnamon wreaths to celebrate the holidays. Griffin explained that her hard work is crucial to her business. Every time she finds a new place that sells rugelach, she tries it and she knows when it’s authentic or not. Griffin knows rugelach can be labor-intensive but also knows that it’s worth the effort.
Griffin isn’t in a rush to expand her business due to her “age” (she added air quotes as she said it), but she does have dreams of opening up a storefront bakery: One where a family could come in, have a piece of rugelach, a cup of coffee, and spend time with their children. For now, she’s happy and proud of how far she’s come and hopes to continue selling her authentic, artisanal rugelach.
– Kai Brown
If you are looking for bigger batches for celebrations, email email@example.com or call at (859) 333 – 9096. You can also find her products in stores (see website for details).
Just Like Nana’s
540 Mineral Spring Ave, Pawtucket
Sanctuary Herbs: Herbal tea subscriptions
When she was 28, Christina Dedora quit her job, cashed in her retirement, and moved to France. She studied French in Aux-de-Provence and afterward went looking for work. While thumbing through job adverts in a work assistance office, she came upon a listing that intrigued her: farm work.
“It was gorgeous, five hours south of Paris, near Toulouse… It was a really different way to live.”
When she returned to the States, she worked assorted jobs, sometimes on a farm, sometimes in an office. Eventually she connected with the Southside Community Land Trust, and they provided her the support she needed to open her own farm, Blue Skys Farm. A decade later she co-founded Sanctuary Herbs and now sells flowers, herbs, and vegetables, as well as tea blends using herbs sourced from local farmers. Her mission is to enhance small farm viability, maintain a low carbon footprint, and literally be farm-to-cup in days.
“People use the farm-to-cup thing all the time, but ours is real! Once our product gets to you, it’s only changed hands twice… By buying our tea, you’re putting money into the hands of farmers.”
– Meg Coss
Radiant Esthetics: Give that glow
Radiant Esthetics offers a wide range of services including facials, botox, laser hair removal, lash tints, and so much more. Their team of professionally trained estheticians focuses on making sure you sit back and enjoy your time. For the busy bee in your life who never really has the time to relax and treat themselves, this could be a rare treat! A client says, online, “So highly recommended. I’ve had facials and peels and both have left me looking and feeling terrific. Very professional. Relaxing atmosphere.” Book through their website.
– Hailey Winn
Radiant Esthetics MedSpa
208 Bellevue Ave, 2nd Floor, Newport
Spoon + Board: Handmade kitchen utensils made from RI trees
“When I approach a log or a tree I pay respect to the spirit of the tree and ask it, What do you want to be? I may sound insane,” says Spoon + Board founder Juan Ferrer. “But it’s always with reverence and a spiritual connection when what would’ve been lost to history is turned into something soft, elegant, and utile.”
Ferrer is a self-taught woodworker. For five years, he watched YouTube videos and practiced woodworking in his basement, slowly he built his shop of tools and learned more advanced techniques. He foraged throughout RI for logs from fallen and felled trees, then dried, studied, and shaped each log into its next form – rolling pins, salt cellars, spatulas, chopsticks, cheese boards, spoons, salad bowls, sugar boxes. “When you buy a Spoon + Board product, you’re buying a product with a sense of origin… I say Mother Nature did the hard work, she made the wood as beautiful as it is, I just shaped it to ensure her tree wasn’t grown in vain.”
– Meg Coss
Nostalgia Antiques & Collectibles: Ages of unexpected finds
No matter what you’re looking for, you’re almost guaranteed to find that, or something else – a completely random gem of a find that you didn’t even know you were looking for – at Nostalgia Antiques & Collectibles. With three floors and over two hundred dealers with all types of unique items, you’re not going to run out of things to look at. It’s truly difficult to walk through the shop without thinking, “Oh, this reminds me of xyz person!” and imagining how the knickknacks you find would look in your house, trying on at least one piece of clothing, or contemplating the practicality of buying that one weird item you find that no one else would probably ever pick up. Like a phrenology head bust. Or a necklace with a giant scorpion pendant. Or a velvet lampshade. Or an egg cooker from the 70s that looks like a big egg itself. I could go on… For this reason, Nostalgia is perfect for gifts: No one will ever expect a gift like the ones you can find here.
When you walk into the store, you’re greeted by a bunch of those mascot statues that hold business cards outside restaurants, vintage clothes, jewelry, shoes, knick-knacks, small furniture, toys, retro kitchen appliances, books, art, and a million other “curiosities, oddities, and treasures from another time.” It’s basically the same throughout all three floors, with themes popping up here and there based on each vendor. “There are 220 dealers and three floors,” says owner Jim Fennessy, “So we have everything from soup to nuts here.” That you do, Jim. That you do.
– Lucy Patterson
Nostalgia Antiques & Collectibles
236 Wickenden St, PVD
Serendipity Artisan Boutique: Handmade Decor
Serendipity Boutique has a wide range of presents to choose from, including many homemade gifts like ornaments, glassware, clothing and home decor. Whether you are shopping for a furry friend or your closest friend, you can find a unique gift here. This shop is also woman-owned and carries locally handmade gifts from other small businesses that surround it. There is no online shopping option to the store, the gifts are best experienced in person, where you can really get a feel for the store.
– Hailey Winn
Serendipity Artisan Boutique
3 Main St, North Kingstown
Longshore Coffee: RI Roasted Coffee Bundles
Stephen Miller used to be a high school teacher; now, he’s a coffee roaster. “I was a social studies teacher, but most of my time I taught entrepreneurship.” Miller worked with seniors on their Capstone projects, which required students to create unique business plans.
“I always used a coffee business as my example… I had a decent amount of theoretical knowledge and I wanted to see if I could put it into practice.” In 2020, he began roasting coffee in his basement and back porch. He brought samples to work, shared beans with friends, and sold coffee in the church parking lot. He spent the school year turning his fake business plan into something real – he found a space, bought equipment, designed a logo, and chose a name.
“It was like, if I can make this work using what I taught my students, then that means I sent them out into the world with something that’s actually useful.” By the end of the school year, Miller’s seniors graduated and he launched Longshore Coffee full time in real life.
“My roasting philosophy is to create products that are representative of what specialty coffee has to offer but are also approachable… My tagline is ‘bringing global coffee to our local community.’ I want to have coffee from everywhere.”
– Meg Coss
To purchase Longshore Coffee’s signature blends, Backpack and Boss Babe, and more quality offerings, visit longshorecoffee.com. Longshore Coffee is also sold at Urban Greens, Rory’s, and at the Pawtucket Farmers Market (Wednesdays, 4–7pm).
RAH-CoCo’s: Your Friendly Neighborhood Comic Shop
When he was 18 years old, Regan Hurst began selling collectibles from a counter in the back of a coin shop. Thirty-five years later – surviving five moves, one flood, one fire, and a few destroyed buildings – RAH-CoCo’s is the longest-standing comic book shop in Rhode Island. “We strive to find the best ways to provide a community experience while having enough of an offering for anyone who’s into comics and collectibles,” said store manager Chris McDiarmid. “We’ve been a little unknown in post-pandemic society, but we’re a staple in the community.”
Since the pandemic, the browsing area of the shop has gotten smaller, but the friendliness and expertise of the staff more than makes up for it. Whether the person you’re buying for is interested in long, epic, never-ending stories, or stand-alone graphic novels, there’s something for everyone at RAH-CoCo’s, and the staff has the knowhow to help you find the perfect gift. Around and behind the counters, you’ll find toys, statues/figures, Pokémon cards, Magic the Gathering cards, and sports cards alongside comics and graphic novels. Plus, if they don’t have what you’re looking for, you can order from their suppliers online or in-store.
“Every comic you buy will be bagged and boarded and in the best condition,” Chris asserts, narrowing in on the collecting and preserving aspects of buying comics. “Collecting is a whole other level of the hobby that can be fun and interesting, and it perpetuates the hobby because you can share [comics] with others, whether it’s through selling them or letting friends borrow them.” In the same vein of sharing, one of RAH-CoCo’s interests is working with youth groups and public libraries to try to be more expansive and to grow young readership. “That monthly readership mentality is getting lost a bit,” says Chris. “Collecting comics doesn’t have to be expensive, and I’m interested in getting kids back into it.” RAH-CoCo’s collaborated with David Morales, District 7 State Rep, for a comic book giveaway at Mt. Pleasant Library this past Halloween. One of Chris’ goals is “to get more kids to open up about what they like to read, and to learn about what kind of stories and characters they like.” For kids and adults alike, “reading helps you become more creative,” Chris says. “It connects you to so many experiences that you would have never found on your own… there’s no limit to self-expression.”
– Lucy Patterson
Make sure you check out RAH-CoCo’s holiday sale until Christmas: 20% off select action figures, 20% off back issues and trades, and 30% off statues.
182 Academy Ave, PVD
Holiday Lights Spectacular: At Roger Williams Park Zoo
This annual walk-through experience features larger-than-life light displays made up of over 3.5 million lights. This is an event for the whole family, a friend, or even a date night. “Holiday Lights Spectacular is the perfect way to ring in the holiday season! Boasting more than 3.5 million lights, our incredible team has truly transformed the entire Zoo into a dazzling winter wonderland,” said executive director, Stacey Johnson. “Bundle up and grab your family and friends for a magical night exploring our 40 acres of festive displays set to the backdrop of your favorite holiday music.” Ring in the Holiday season nightly from November 25 through January 1, 2023. Tickets and more information can be found on the Roger Williams Park Zoo website.
– Hailey Winn
Roger Williams Park Zoo
1000 Elmwood Ave, PVD
Untapped Games: Tapping into gamers’ passions
Whether you’re staying home for the holidays or unsure what to get your friend or family member who won’t stop showing you their Pokémon card collection, Untapped Games is guaranteed to satisfy both your search for community and your friend’s mild (or more serious) addiction.
Untapped Games offers board games such as Catan (and its expansions) and Nemesis, tabletop games like DnD and Pathfinder, and card games like Magic The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh! Beyond games, they also offer a variety of miniatures, accessories, dice, and card sleeves to personalize the way gamers play.
Untapped Games also hosts events and tournaments every day. Participants can earn store credit while also connecting with members of the gaming community who are just as excited and invested as they are. Around the holidays the store becomes filled with college students who didn’t fly home and instead get to enjoy the company of their peers. “Finding other people who are energized by the same things you are is the main appeal of the community,” says Steven Weed, store manager.
Another thing Untapped Games is proud of is welcoming newcomers. Weed says, “One of our big pushes here is to make sure our spaces are welcoming and somewhere anyone can come and game, regardless of their experience or background.”
Weed’s advice for new gamers is to work off what they know and are interested in: “Try and follow whatever passion you already have, and then see what games there are to let you live in that world a bit more.” Horror, fantasy, western or sci-fi, they all have their games. There is a whole community at the Untapped Games store and on their Discord to help teach new gamers everything they need to know about gaming. New at gaming or a pro, Untapped Games has products and experiences for everyone.
– Kai Brown
454 Pawtucket Ave, Pawtucket
And if no one gift or experience quite does the trick…
You can transform a fairly uninspired gift into something memorable by pairing it with just the right complement. The classic dinner and movie has many relatives in the gift world. An event at the Dunk – er, Meek – and a Trinity Brewhouse gift certificate, or a dinner and a show at any of our local venues.
Not sure what your giftee likes in terms of music? You can ask without blowing the surprise by posing a random question, game-style: “If you were trapped on a desert island, what would be the 3 musicians you’d want to have recordings of?” Nobody will expect your gifting ulterior motive.
Then see when that band or a tribute of that band might be around town. Combine tix with a gift cert to a favorite restaurant – or start with the music venue and use Google Maps to find restaurants near that venue. Walking from food to venue is a great way to create a bonded experience. Once you see what’s nearby, proceed directly to motifri.com and search for a restaurant review. Here are a few suggested pairings from your friends at Motif:
Go Karting, Axe Throwing, Rockwall Climbing, and Laser Tag
There’s an obscure strip on the Pawtucket end of Lincoln that features spacious businesses right next to each other that focus on these various activities. You can’t throw an axe from a go kart, or bring lasers on the rock wall (yes, we’ve tried), but you can get gift certificates for all these activities and have a day your giftee will never forget. There’s even a tattoo parlor, if a grown-up wants a permanent souvenir.
Garden Grille and Wildflour
Delicious dinner and dessert for that veggie or vegan or otherwise food-sensitive diner. They’re in the same plaza off Hope St, a street covered with other healthy foodie options, from Stock Culinary Goods at one end to Not Just Spices and India at the other.
Skydiving and Scuba Diving
Because they both have “diving” right in the name, although it turns out you’re not allowed to actually do both at the exact same time. But your adventure-addicted giftee can always try to jog from landing pad to the bay.
Boston Skydive – bostonskydivecenter.com
300 Jenckes Hill Rd, Smithfield
Giant Stride Dive Shop – giantstridediveshop.com
1935 Warwick Ave, Warwick
Bowl at 60s-themed Lang’s Bowlarama, try United Skates of America for disco or ‘80s night, then travel further back in time at the RI Antiques Mall. The first two have gift certs available, although you have to go to USASkates to get one.
Lang’s Bowlarama – langsbowlarama.com
255 Niantic Ave, Cranston
United Skates of America – unitedskates.com
75 New Rd, Rumford
RI Antiques Mall – riantiquesmall.com
345 Fountain St, Pawtucket
Ballroom Dancing and Seaside Dining
The Towers in Narragansett offers classes with a view and the Coast Guard House, especially in the summer, is legendary for food and a view, rounding out a high-end treat night.
The Towers – thetowersri.com
35 Ocean Rd, Narragansett
Coast Guard House
40 Ocean Rd, Narragansett