Meet Phil Ayoub, Neighborhood Champion

Neighborhood Champion Phil Ayoub

Phil Ayoub is the founder and owner of Beau Tyler & the Sly Dog Co., ”style for good-hearted people and good-hearted pets.” Beau Tyler has been headquartered on Thames Street in Newport for the past two years, and Phil values his entrepreneurial neighbors. In this video, he introduces us to the Admiral Fitzroy Inn, Danielle’s Mouse Trap, Love Shack by Lola, Nitro Bar, Paw Addict, and Sunflower on Thames.

There’s no place like Newport in the summer. ☀️🕶⛵️When you’re enjoying all that the Ocean State has to offer, buy local!

Meet Caitlin Mandel, Neighborhood Champion

Neighborhood Champion Caitlin Mandel

According to Bristolian and Neighborhood Champion Caitlin Mandel, “It’s a perfect month to focus on Bristol, Rhode Island, as it’s home to the oldest Fourth of July Celebration in the country! About a month before the 4th, the town’s citizens start decorating their homes with patriotic decor and walking around with big smiles on their faces shouting, “Happy Fourth!” to anyone they pass. It was very hard to narrow this list down to just five businesses, there are so many great local finds in this town!”

Thanks, Caitlin, for sharing just a few of your favorites. You know what to do, Rhode Island.

“The Beehive Cafe was founded in 2007 and features a delicious assortment of coffee, tea, and bakery items, as well as a full menu of seasonally inspired breakfast, lunch and dinner choices. The Beehive Cafe is right off the East Bay Bike path and is a great spot to refuel.” 

Bristol Looms

“Owned by my good friend and talented local artist Maya Cordeiro, Bristol Looms makes handwoven textiles for the home such as napkins, blankets, table runners, and rag rugs. Maya is known for her unique color combinations that are often inspired by the natural landscape.”

Papa Joe's Wrap Shack

“You will find this great sandwich shop on the corner of Bradford and Hope St. in downtown Bristol. The hilarious crew slings delicious thin crust pizza and inventive wraps, often to a soundtrack of Death Metal. Don’t forget to try The Bristolian, a wrap that features calamari and hot pepper rings.”

Paper, Packing, and Panache

“Paper Packaging Panache has a thoughtfully-curated assortment of stationary, gifts and toys for children. This store has never let me down on a last minute gift run!”  

Borealis Coffee at Unity Park
  • Unity Park (ha! I snuck in five more for the price of one 😄)

“One of the hottest new spots in Bristol is Unity Park, a collective of local businesses on Wood Street that is repurposing the industrial spaces that were once home to a Rubber Mill. Unity Park just opened in the past year, and features Brick, a high end pizza restaurant and Pivotal Brewing, which is a great place to hang out with friends. But as a former staff member of Hope & Main, I am most excited to see three Hope & Main members set up shop in town, including Fieldstone Kombucha, Borealis Coffee, and Basil and Bunny.”

Meet Sarah King, Neighborhood Champion

Neighborhood Champion Sarah King (Cumberland)

Sarah King of Cumberland shares three small businesses from her beloved Cumberland:

Front door of Apothica Cafe
  • Apothica Cafe, 3 Dexter Street, Cumberland

Apothica Cafe is LGBTQIA+ owned by Eddy Sandoval and Christian Torres, who also live in town. They are an apothecary-inspired cafe serving locally roasted espresso (from New Harvest Coffee Roasters of Providence) and crafting delicious vegan food options by partnering with local bakers like A&J Bakery, the Donut Shack, and Creature of the Veggie Patch. Oh, my!  

  • You.StudioSpa, 9 Whipple Street, Cumberland

Owned by Lizzy Choquette, You.StudioSpa prioritizes accessible massage and self care. Lizzy offers a variety of services including therapeutic massage, facials, body scrubs and treatments, and waxing. Says Sarah, simply, “She’s amazing!”

Colonial Bakery
  • Colonial Bakery, 185 Broad Street, Cumberland

Colonial Bakery has been in Cumberland for nearly 110 years serving delicious Portuguese pastries and breads. Yes, that’s right: 110 years. The bakery was opened by the Gonsalves family in 1914, and they spent 80 years making family recipes until the family sold the business to the Mello family. “With the help of long-time employee Albertino Duarte,” Sarah noted, “the Mellos fell in love with recipes, baking, and the business. They’re keeping it alive for a new generation.” Lucky us.  

Thank you, Sarah, for being a Neighborhood Champion! Rhode Island, get out there and explore Cumberland.

Meet Kate Lentz, Neighborhood Champion

Kate Lentz: "We're committed to buying local and supporting Rhode Island independent bookstores. They are essential members of our community."

Kate Lentz is the director of the Rhode Island Center for the Book, a statewide organization devoted to promoting personal and community enrichment by celebrating the art and heritage of reading, writing, making, and sharing books.

Kate and her team are true Neighborhood Champions, working everyday to spotlight all of Rhode Island’s unique independent bookstores. She reports, “We’re committed to buying local and supporting Rhode Island independent bookstores. They are essential members of our community!”

Check out Kate’s video with Amy Van Keuren, bookseller and store manager of Charter Books in Newport. As Amy notes, “Bookstores can curate their collection to their community, so we can give you personalized recommendations the way an algorithm will never be able to.” A Neighborhood Champion herself, Amy gives a shout-out to Closet Revival in Newport and Different Drummer in Wickford.

Meet Maria DeCarvalho, Neighborhood Champion

Neighborhood Champion Maria DeCarvalho

Maria DeCarvalho shared three wonderful local family businesses.

La Arepa owner Nohemi Rodriguez and her son Bernardo Garcia
  • La Arepa, 582 Smithfield Avenue, Pawtucket 

Nohemi Rodriguez grew up in Valencia, Venezuela and she and her son Bernardo Garcia bring traditions of both beauty and deliciousness to their wonderful restaurant, La Arepa, located in the Fairlawn neighborhood of Pawtucket.  

Arepas are sweet corn cakes filled with meat, cheese, beans and vegetables that Nohemi and Bernardo began selling out of a food truck in 2000.  They are delicious, and their biggest seller is the Papellon Arepa, available with chicken or shredded beef. The restaurant now occupies a Pawtucket store front elegantly decorated to evoke Nohemi’s home town. You can’t help but notice how cheerful and well-kept it is — a perfect place for lunch or dinner, or to throw a party!

Bernardo says running your own business requires patience but he loves it — and he and his Mom appreciate how cozy Rhode Island is, and how many small business there are here.  His personal favorite: Cured Collection, located at Providence Place Mall, where he goes for streetwear.

Italian Corner owners Massimo and Paola Dellolio
  • Italian Corner, 10 Boyd Avenue, East Providence

Massimo and Paola Dellolio make legendary Italian sandwiches but it doesn’t stop there.  You can also visit the Italian Corner for homemade Italian soups, pastas and sauces, cured meats and cheeses and every ingredient an antipasto might require.  If you’re lucky, you can find yourself at Massimo’s table on a Saturday night, when their restaurant serves his cooking.  

When you visit the deli counter, Paola greets you with, “Senora?” and it’s just a little bit like being in Italy. She and Massimo dedicate themselves to preserving the best of the small Italian towns they came from, and they offer advice and encouragement as well as general yumminess.

You can also find everything you need for any pasta, polenta or risotto you want to cook up. 

What do Paola and Massimo love?  Being close to the water, as they were in their home towns.  They love helping their customers learn about and appreciate authentic Italian cooking and watching them bite into their famous sandwiches.  And when they hang up their aprons and go out to dinner themselves, they head towards Chomp in Warren and Nacho Mama in Bristol.

Reliable Gold owners Sarah Abeles and Rena
  • Reliable Gold, Wayland Square, Providence

At Reliable Gold jewelers in Wayland Square you can find both one-of-a-kind, heirloom-quality treasures from the past and fun, fresh new looks created by the young jewelers Sarah Abeles and her Mom Rena have discovered. Rena and Sarah work with their team to make sure their beautiful Wayland Square shop has something for every occasion.  Because they’ve carefully chosen each item in their store, and because they give each customer individual time and attention, they can help them find exactly the right piece for the person and the moment. 

Sarah and Rena treasure both the history of this family-owned business founded in 1934 and the opportunity it gives them to embody their family values of trust and respect in their relationships with vendors, customers and each other.  They love the sense of community and continuity that doing business here in Rhode Island for so long has given them — and Sarah says the breathtaking architecture, active arts community, wonderful restaurants and beaches don’t hurt either!

They love supporting other women-owned businesses, especially their neighbors on Wayland Square, like CORE Fitness and Bloom Back Flowers.

July is Independents Month!

Celebrate your independents! Image from AMIBA

From July 1 to July 31, Independents Month celebrates independent, locally-owned businesses and the community values they embody:

  • Their spirit of entrepreneurship, individuality, uniqueness, and character.
  • How they give back to our community with their time, talents, goods, and services.
  • How they fulfill community needs that make us healthier and wealthier.

Why independents?

Every $1 we spend has consequences. When we choose to buy from locally-owned businesses, our money does more good for our local community.

Independents Month is a good time to learn about what’s available locally, consider the consequences of your choices, and shift some of your spending.

Meet our Neighborhood Champions

Local people know their communities the best, and they know who and what make it special. For Independents Month, Neighborhood Champions (list updated throughout the month) are spotlighting local businesses they love in their places.

Are you a Neighborhood Champion?

It’s super easy to participate. Just tell us about a few businesses that make your community great. Get your suggestions in ASAP.

Meet Sandra Enos, Neighborhood Champion

Neighborhood Champion Sandra Enos: "Wakefield is really blessed to have so many exceptional businesses in such a small space."

Sandra Enos, a recently retired sociology professor, has her own small business. Giving Beyond The Box curates gift boxes that feature local enterprises, BIPOC- and woman-owned businesses, Providence-based artists, and local farmers.

Sandra’s local champions are located in downtown Wakefield, Rhode Island. They are all within about 500 feet of each other. Sandra said, “Wakefield is really blessed to have so many exceptional businesses in such a small space.” Each of these businesses brings energy, vitality and community to the downtown area.

  • Brickley’s has been voted one of the best places for ice cream in the state. Sandra knows someone who has licked his way through all of their flavors over the course of one summer. (This is the kind of goal we can get behind. 🍦)
  • South County Bread Company is the newest arrival with a collection of wonderful breads, baguettes, croissants and sweets along with new inventions all the time.
  • The Contemporary Theater features theatrical productions, as well as a a vibrant improv community. They recently hosted the Ocean State Improv Festival which brought performers from New York, California, Minnesota, and elsewhere. They also offer classes for children and adults.
  • Duck Press features an eclectic menu and a small cafe atmosphere. It is a great place for a special dinner. Sandra says she has never ordered the same thing twice because their new dishes are always so tempting.

Thank you, Sandra, for being a Neighborhood Champion! Rhode Island, get out there and explore Wakefield.

Local Social!

Local Social graphic -- June 30, 5:30 p.m. at The Guild Beer Garden

Interested in local economies and investing? Join us for an informal happy hour on Thursday, June 30, 5:30 p.m. at The Guild Beer Garden by the Michael Van Leesten Pedestrian Bridge in Providence. You’ll meet like-minded people, drink local beer, enjoy the Providence riverfront, AND support a locally-owned business.

Email for more information.

Are you a Neighborhood Champion?

"Yes, we are open {heart} local" sign

Every $1 we spend has consequences. When we choose to buy from locally-owned businesses, our money does more good for our local community. Here’s six good reasons to buy local.

From July 1 to July 31, Independents Month celebrates independent, locally-owned businesses and entrepreneurship. For Independents Month, Local Return is recruiting Neighborhood Champions to help us spotlight local businesses. Why? Because you know your community the best, and you know who and what make it special.  

Our goal is to inform and inspire members of the public to learn about what’s available locally, consider the consequences of their choices, and shift some of their spending. We want to include a mix of business-to-consumer goods and business-to-business innovations.  

The Assignment

  1. Pick a community that you love. Hint: It could be a place (like Peace Dale, Riverside, or Pascoag) or a group of people (Black-owned businesses). 
  1. Tell us about 3-5 businesses that make your community great. Which businesses do you LOVE? Which businesses make your place vibrant and whole? The criteria: They must be independent (no franchises, please) and locally-owned (by someone who lives in or very close to Rhode Island). Photos are great!
  1. Bonus points: Record a short video (0:30 to 2 minutes) with one or more of the business owners. Be as creative as you’d like, but here are a few suggested questions to ask: 
  • Introduce us to (BUSINESS). 
  • What’s your favorite part of being an entrepreneur? 
  • What do you love about (PLACE)?
  • What’s your favorite local business? 

How to Participate 

Send your responses to

During July, we hope you’ll share your contributions directly on social media tagging @LocalReturnRI on Twitter or Instagram. 

The fine print: By submitting, you acknowledge that you give Local Return permission to share your contributions publicly.

April 30 is Independent Bookstore Day

Independent Bookstore Day logo, Saturday, April 30, 2022

Saturday, April 30 is Independent Bookstore Day! Celebrate at any one of Rhode Island’s delightful independently-only bookshops, from Westerly to Pawtucket to Warren. According to, there are nine Rhode Island stores participating:

We all must be stewards of the things we value. Local bookstores — owned by our neighbors — are centers for community, they support learning and independent thought, and they’re contributors to our local economy. When you support a local bookshop, your money stays in the local economy longer and does more good. So you can feel good about your Independent Bookstore Day celebrations!