· Providence Perfume Co
In the trendy neighborhood of Fox Point, native New Englander Charna Ethier whips up her custom blended perfumes, oils, and bath products. The all-natural products come in hippie-inspired scents like Ginger Lily, Tabac Citron, and the popular Hindu Honeysuckle. If you have a longer stay planned, Charna leads perfume-making classes.
· Alex & Ani
Now a successful jewelry brand carried at Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom, the company started right here in Providence, and the owners are expanding into other ventures in their hometown, including a coffee shop next door to the store. Pick up birthstone earrings, stacks of bangles, pendants printed with the logo of your favorite university, and other goodies right here at the source.
· RISD Museum Store
Providence is known for amazing design thanks to the two world-class design schools that call the city home. The Rhode Island School of Design (better known as RISD, pronounced "Riz-dee") has a gift shop of their must-visit museum, and it only carries goods made by RISD alums. That includes backpacks and laptop cases from BAGGU, lacquered picture frames by Keith DiMuccio, and handmade wooden kids' toys from Butter. There's even furniture, if you can fit it in your suitcase.
That "hard to shop for" person on your list will be pleased with whatever you pick up from well-curated downtown boutique Homestyle. The shop carries everything from TokyoMilk and Library of Flowers soaps and scents to Jonathan Adler candles and stuffed animals made of corduroy. Owner Lisa Newman is often on hand to field questions.
[Photo: Providence Perfume]