We had the good fortune of connecting with Christine Francis and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Christine, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I am not a natural risk taker. Before opening my own business I always had a traditional full time job with a paycheck. I believe that the financial crisis of 2008 helped me to consider taking a risk because it changed everything but showed me I could survive. I lost my job, as did my husband at the time. We were both suddenly unemployed with a mortgage. We managed to collect unemployment, cobble together some part time jobs, and, qualify for a HARP loan which destroyed our credit even though we followed the rules and were promised it would not. After getting through that I returned to full time work where I was commuting an hour each way every day to not really enjoy my job. When the perfect location opened up to open my first brick and mortar store, I was far more open to leaving FT work and taking the risk having been yanked FROM FT work already with no plan, yet surviving.

What should our readers know about your business?
In 2009 I started my vintage business on-line on Etsy following my layoff from FT work. In 2013 I took the leap to open a brick and mortar in downtown Providence. I expanded into the neighboring space in 2015 enabling me to expand my men’s offerings. In 2020 I relocated to Tiverton, RI because of tenant changes to my former building. At the time of the move I decided to revisit my original concept which was to focus on Vintage Cat & Dog related merchandise. (My name, Carmen and Ginger came from my cat, Carmen, and, a friend’s dog, Ginger.) I now have the main room of the shop devoted to vintage dog and cat items, alongside locally-made leashes, collars, bow ties, bandanas and cat toys. I supplement those with some wholesale dog toys as well. Additionally, I have two “shop cats;” Max & Django. Max is very elusive but Django is very social and spends most days in the shop interacting with customers.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m no longer in the city, but, it’s only a half hour away! One of the great things about living in the smallest state is the variety of options you have in such a small area. Where I am located now, you can be at the ocean, to South Shore Beach in Little Compton, in 15 minutes. There is also an incredible selection of fresh farms and farm stands in this region, alongside an incredible array of places to go hiking and birding. There is also great seafood in the East Bay, with Evelyn’s in Tiverton, and Blounts on the water in Warren being two of my favorite places to meet up with or take friends. The East Bay bike path is wonderful and takes you from Bristol, RI past the headquarters of the Audubon Society of Rhode Island, through Warren and Barrington all the way to Providence! Whether you bike or drive to the city; Waterfire is a must along with Pizza at Fellini’s on Wickenden Street and a visit to Little City Thrifty, a twice annual Vintage Event at the Waterfire Arts Center.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My local retail role model is Frog & Toad in Providence, RI. They are not only a delightfully creative and unique store, they constantly are giving back to the community. They really peaked at blowing my mind during the height of the pandemic. They had to close two retail locations temporarily. Instead of laying off employees, they ramped up their on-line sales and mail/pick up systems to INCREASE sales and keep all employees. Additionally, they created funny pandemic related tee shirts that added a needed dose of levity (i.e.: quoting the RI Governor’s “Knock it Off!” quote about lax mask wearing…) yet also RAISED money to help those in need at the same time. They raised over $20,000 for Covid Relief in something like a month.

Website: www.carmenandginger.com

Instagram: carmenandginger

Facebook: carmenandginger

Other: FB: Guide to Rhode Island Vintage www.facebook.com/guidetoprovidencevintage IG: guide.to.rhode.island.vintage

Image Credits
Photo: Christine Francis

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