It’s been only a few weeks since the Arcade reopened in downtown Providence and already shopkeepers in the newly renovated 1828 landmark are developing a camaraderie unusual among mall tenants.
“We’re like the ‘Melrose Place’ of retail,” said Jessica Ricci, owner of Jessica Ricci Jewelers, referring to the 1990s television drama set in a California apartment complex. “We are a community. You couldn’t get more quality people and interaction. Every evening it’s ‘see you at [coffee and liquor bar New Harvest Coffee & Spirts].’ ”
The collaborative commerce at the Arcade is no coincidence.
During the 21-month transformation of the building, owner Evan Granoff looked to fill the first-floor retail segment of the project with like-minded and complementary businesses that would be greater than the sum of their parts.
“We were trying to create destination retail and draw on the strength of Providence, which is the education and arts infrastructure that is here,” Granoff said on a recent morning from the bar at New Harvest, the unofficial nerve center and social hub for the building thus far. “That is tied to the creative designers and we wanted to capitalize on that to make a destination people would drive an hour for.”
As an example of the retail synergies in the Arcade, Granoff made sure each of the three eateries planned for the building would be focused on breakfast, lunch and dinner respectively.
One of those eateries, the lunch-centric Livi’s Pockets, will offer delivery service through messengers at the already open Dash Bicycle Shop.
Although “new American” restaurant Rogue Island had yet to open, it’s dining room was made available last month for a fashion show hosted by clothing boutique Nude.
Granoff said the Arcade has been contacted by up to 300 retailers and restaurants, including some chains, but turned many away and decided to stick with locally owned shops.
“That was part of the process: finding retailers who would work together,” said Arcade spokeswoman Robin Dionne.
Perhaps by default in the past, the Arcade has historically featured small, local stores.