Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 06-13-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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SMITHFIELD SCITUATE FOSTER GLOCESTER EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE & OBSERVER | JUNE 13-19, 2019 GLOCESTER 3 GLOCESTER – "There are empty shelves that need to be filled," says Charlie Wilson of the Town Trader in historic Chepachet village. Wilson is one of nine members of the newly reformed Economic Development Commission formed to revitalize the main strip in the vil- lage. In February, the Town Council commissioned the EDC to make rec- ommendations to the Town Council that encourage economic develop- ment that aligns with the town's rural character and diversify the tax base. Wilson bought the Town Trader, 1177 Putnam Pike, an antique store with some 22 consignment spaces filled with "something for everyone," in 2005. He said the village has potential, and has been pointed out by developers as a place to build and promote as a tourist center. "Quaint, rural and very historic," is how Wilson sells Glocester in a few descriptive words. National tourism expert Roger Brooks, during a forum in Pawtucket last month, cited Chepachet as a place that's found its niche in attract- ing regular shoppers to its main vil- lage strip and quaint stores. For Wilson, developing more vibrancy in the area is an all-around win-win. He likens the village to be some- thing like Wickford village in Wakefield, a shopping community rich with history in a beautiful, rural setting. "Fill up the rest of those buildings and shelves and make it a nice walk- ing village," Wilson said. Renting out or selling the empty shops to small businesses, perhaps an art gallery, bakery, or clothing boutique, will "round out the area," Wilson said. The more attractive the center is, the more visitors and potential shoppers will come and browse the store. "The more the merrier, in my opin- ion," Wilson said. "You'll be bound to find something that strikes your fancy here." Wilson is also a promoter of sorts. A member of the Glocester Business Association, he remembers the pam- phlets that the GBA made in the '90s for a walking tour through the village featuring historic buildings and great shopping experiences, something the GBA will like to see return to the vil- lage. He takes trips around New England to local antique stores with a list of antique stores in each state and other local shopping. The list sits on his counter as well as in the other shops. He promotes Glocester as often as his own business, Wilson said. "I promote us by advertising and just letting people know we're here and there are shops like mine in town that are available," Wilson said. Wilson and his wife live upstairs in the 1690s trading post while the shop occupies all 3,330 square feet of the first floor. "I'd like to see locally owned busi- nesses here and do what I do. Run the business on the first floor and live on the second floor," Wilson said. People like Wilson are what make Chepachet special, said Town Council President George "Buster" Steere Jr. Going into shops where the owner is there to talk about their products and can tell you the history of the building makes it unique. That's what the EDC and Town Council are proposing to Town Planner Karen Scott. Scott said that the town opened zoning on the main strip for a mix of uses, which means a business can be legally run on the first floor and the second floor can be used as a home. Scott is writing grants and working to secure funding to make Chepachet more attractive to existing and poten- Historic Chepachet village is open for business By JACQUELYN MOOREHEAD Valley Breeze & Observer Staff Writer Town Trader owner CHARLIE WILSON, a member of the Glocester Economic Development Commission, said more business and growth is welcome to Chepachet and will cre- ate more traffic from shoppers. "The more, the merrier," he said. BREEZE PHOTO BY JACQUELYN MOOREHEAD See CHEPACHET, Page 21

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