In the past few weeks, anyone who made the trek to the Kingston Emporium for a Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee or a 2 a.m. calzone from I-zone may have noticed the vacant stores bolted shut with for sale signs in the windows.
These empty store fronts begged the question: is business going under at the emporium with all the easy access deliveries through hungryrhody.com? Â According to Emporium business owners, business is actually doing better than projected.
On October 1, a new boutique opened, occupying the space where the old failed clothing consignment shop once was.
Lauren Young, graduate student from the University of Rhode Island who majored in textiles, fashion merchandising and design, made a large investment around two weeks ago when she decided to purchase the space in order to open a second location for her store, Elle G.
On Monday, Young and her full-time intern Kayla Daly, a fashion merchandising student at Johnson & Wales University, worked tirelessly on the shop and spent hours in Ikea purchasing furniture for the store, which Daly called “the longest day ever” while putting finishing touches on a table.
The past two weeks have certainly been a journey for Young and Daly. Young said she saw the space for sale, contacted the landlord, took a quick look and two days later got the key.
Since then, the two women, with the help of Young’s husband, have repainted, refurbished and redesigned the entire store. The old beige color walls are gone, replaced with a purple and white trim. This new boutique will offer various articles of clothing, jewelry and trinkets, and nothing in the store is over $100.
With no other clothing shop in the emporium, the boutique should be received with open arms. Young said that she and Daly had a vendor booth in front of the memorial union last week and did exceptionally well, according to them selling more than they had imagined. They said that sales genuinely reassured their decision to open shop in the emporium.
As an alum, Young remembers living on campus and the struggle of wanting to buy clothes and resorting to ordering things online. Now with the opening of Elle G, it’s “literally on campus, at your fingertips, all the time,” she said.
Young’s other location in East Greenwich has been in business for two years and is doing well, she said. Young said she has the space on campus for eight months and if it does well she’ll revise the lease and sign on for a longer time.
In addition to the new boutique, an urgent care medical physicality is opening up in the empty space next to Elle G. There’s no estimated opening day, but through newspaper covered windows, walls were being put up and things were being torn down. This center will be a walk-in clinic for those needing care for simple treatment. Those with severe medical care should still go to the university’s Health Services located in the Potter Building.
There are still empty buildings standing in the Kingston Emporium with no plans. Adjacent store owners all spoke about not wanting competition with their own businesses while welcoming new and up-and-coming shops. Elle G opens its doors October 1 and Young and Daly are looking forward to feedback from students.