Gift ideas

Need gift ideas? These savvy store owners can help


Finding gifts for different members of your family requires creative thinking and maybe even a little help from professionals. A second opinion is always helpful, and stores like Riffraff, Elle G, and Blanc and Bleu are good places to start.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Taste literature while sipping a cocktail at the Riffraff Bookstore and Bar; Elle G offers clothes and accessories to suit all styles; White and Blue furniture can transform a house into a home. Photograph by Lauren Young.

NORTH
Riffraff bookstore and bar: For book lovers
Story: You’ve walked into bookstores that sell socks, soft toys, and other eye-catching knick-knacks. At the Riffraff Bookstore and Bar, you can pair your shopping experience with a cocktail, draft beer or a Jameson on the rocks.
Riffraff’s co-owners, Tom Roberge and Emma Ramadan, both worked in publishing in New York City when they met – she translated French literature into English, he worked at Albertine Books, a French-language bookstore, and English – and the connection they shared inspired more than a friendship.
Wanting to leave town and open a bookstore together, they realized Providence was a great place; Roberge’s family once lived in Newport and Ramadan attended Brown University. They wanted the opposite of a cafe as well as a place where people can connect with friends and strangers in one setting; merging books with a bar seemed like the right solution. When Riffraff opened in December 2017, they created just that. “People are not going [to cafes] go out with other people. They go there to work and do their own thing, ”says Roberge. “We understand that too, especially during the day, but in a bar people come to socialize and every once in a while people meet. “
recommendation: Roberge observed that most New Englanders are self-sufficient when looking for books, no suggestion is needed. If they’re having a hard time choosing, he’ll be happy to help, especially if buyers ask for advice on finding something for themselves or for someone special.
“I ask a lot of questions to get answers that I can use to figure out what they’re looking for…. There is a wide range in all genres, ”says Roberge of the bookstore’s fiction, non-fiction and poetry sections. Oddly, however, “people ask for more recommendations at the bar than at the bookstore.”
When choosing books for someone else, think about your shared interests, then take the time to browse Riffraff’s shelves. The bookstore / bar aims to embrace the eccentricity of Providence, and Roberge and Ramadan enhance that by offering selections you won’t find elsewhere.
Hours: Tue – Thursday. noon – 10 p.m., Fri – Sat noon to midnight, Sun noon to 8 p.m. Riffraff Bookstore and Bar, 60 Valley St., Suite 107A, Providence, 421-4371, riffraffpvd.com

SOUTH
Elle G: For fashionistas
Story: Lauren Young, owner of Elle G boutique in Wakefield, grew up in a fashion-centric household. Her father, EK Greif, worked as a sales representative for shoe and hat companies, so she was constantly surrounded by fabric samples and trade show conversations. After graduating from URI in 2010 with a degree in textiles, fashion merchandising and design, she rose through the ranks until her dream of opening a store in 2012.
Young’s fashion sense has followed her from Marblehead, Mass. To Ocean State to provide residents with a bit of everything in Elle G, which is a play on her first and maiden name, Greif.
It takes a special eye to suggest the right item to a buyer who walks through the doors of his store. “Most of the time, I can tell just by looking at someone in which direction they’re going to land,” Young explains.
Most of her customers are loyal regulars who believe she can choose what they need because she already knows their style. “Service is what we’re looking for here,” Young says. “We like to go above and beyond for our customers, and they like it because few places do.”
recommendation: If you’re already in tune with the dress style of a friend or family member, holiday shopping is a snap. However, it is always prudent to get a second opinion, especially when there are many options to choose from. It can be difficult to find something special for a customer who is unfamiliar with the style of the recipient of their gift, but Young says she has almost perfected the process.
After browsing the store, she asks the customer several questions while choosing specific clothes to see if they find them too basic, extroverted or conservative, and if they want something more fitted or flowy. “They start to see certain styles and achieve what they like,” Young says.
Elle G also offers trendy jewelry, handbags, shoes, hats and other accessories that go well with whatever gift you choose. “We don’t just offer one style for one customer,” Young says. “We like to have a bit of everything for everyone. The items in the store are all under $ 100 so customers can update their wardrobes and shop for gifts, in person or online, without breaking the bank.
Hours: Mon. – Sat. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sun 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Elle G, 330 Main Street, Wakefield, 284-2091, ellegri.com

IS
White and Blue: For Homebodies
Story: The idea for a collaboration between interior stylists Rebekah Willenberg of Purposefully Picked and Jenna Kinghorn of Styled by Jenna arose at a farmers market after people stopped by their booth to ask if they had. a retail store. In 2019, the women opened a 400 square foot store in Pawtucket’s Hope Artist Village. However, COVID helped them realize they didn’t need a storefront; Blanc et Bleu’s website and social networks have been effective business tools.
Their friend, Althea Tower of Riveted Woodworking, introduced them to a space in Bristol’s Wood Street Mill Complex that would serve as their workshop and weekly showroom. In summer, they hosted outdoor markets.
Each piece in the Blanc et Bleu workshop is either found and given a more modern makeover, or a bespoke piece that a client wishes to embellish. Before starting, they evaluate the color and the style.
“Our biggest sellers are white, gray and blue, hence the name White and Blue,” says Kinghorn.
Typically, when New Englanders consider coastal themes, they think of anchors and waves. The Blanc et Bleu team wanted to bring the same theme to their showroom, but with a touch.
“For the coast, we think of France as well as of Brittany and Normandy”, explains Kinghorn. Vintage European cottage style is the approach the two women strive for when finishing a piece of furniture or stocking market baskets in the showroom.
Kinghorn, whose husband, Iain, is from Scotland, has several working partners in the UK and France. The French baskets of Blanc et Bleu, for which they are known, are handcrafted in Morocco and shipped from France, along with soaps from the Marseille Soap Company, which are made from olive oil or vegetable oil. .
recommendation: French consumer baskets are popular and very versatile; Kinghorn’s recommendation is a nod to the classic holiday movie It’s a Wonderful Life, where George and Mary Bailey present the Martini family with a basket full of bread, salt, and wine to welcome them to their new home.
“Get local bread from bakeries and local wine; we also haul sea salt from Newport here, ”says Kinghorn. “These are always fun because they can also be taken to farmers’ markets or to the beach.”
Marseille Soap Company soaps can be mixed and matched then wrapped together with a bow. Dish and pot brushes are essential for any cooking enthusiast, as is the soap block Kinghorn uses in his own kitchen.
White and Blue furniture and accessories can be shipped or picked up at the workshop. The showroom, open to the public on Saturdays, offers a one-stop-shop for modernized decor to add that spark of seniority to your loved one’s home.
Hours: Sat 11 am-3pm Blanc et Bleu Home, 500 Wood St., Bristol, 433-9439, blancandbleuhome.com