The University of Rhode Island’s annual Holiday Mini Mall will return to the Memorial Union ballroom on Dec. 5 and 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For 46 years, the Holiday Mini Mall has brought festive cheer into the lives of URI students during the holiday season. When the event first made its debut, there were only a few retail shops in the area, and the mini-mall became the only opportunity students had to grab some last minute gifts for loved ones before the holidays. Although there are a lot more retail stores in the Kingston area now, students still delight in the opportunity to shop from the local artisans and specialty shops that arrive at their school each year.
Sheri Davis, URI coordinator of Conferencing, Events and Marketing said that she is beyond excited for this year’s show.
“We invited retailers from Wickford and Narragansett and all around Rhode Island to come and share their art with us,” Davis said. She said she was excited about some of the vendors they have attending this year. There will be handmade accessories from Serendipity, scented candles, balms and soaps from a local bee farm, and a company Davis was especially excited about that does all of their work with cotton candy.
“My favorite tables every year are the ones that work wonders with sustainability,” Davis said. “The URI Student Action for Sustainability club had a booth last year where they sold art pieces they had created from melted vinyl records—it was amazing!” She connected their work to another vendor at the mini-mall, Treasures of the Vine, who sells handcrafted cheese boards from recycled wine and liquor bottles. Davis said that their products are extremely popular every year.
For the past 40 years, this theme of sustainability has been showcased at the event through the local artisan company, Simply Natural. Simply Natural sells eco-friendly and unique products and promotes upcycling, recycling, using organic and natural goods and local artists. The store has been attending the Holiday Mini Mall since the very beginning. Store Co-owner Jerry Fortin said that this year he is bringing more than one thousand items with him to the show.
“There will be jewelry, scarves, organic soaps, natural skin care products, etched glassware, reusable bags and tons of amazing work from local artists,” Fortin said. Fortin said that their use of sustainability can get quite creative, adding that they will also be bringing candles with them that are encased in old beer cans.
According to Davis, last year’s mini-mall was attended by at least 800 URI students and staff members. Year after year, the mini-mall never fails to excite students. Whenever she discusses the event with alums, Davis said that even if they haven’t been on campus in years, they speak of it fondly and with a smile on their face.