On a chilly stroll through Bristol, an enticing window display beckons passersby to enter the stylish and cozy Fenwick and Oliver. Located on Thames Street across from Independence Park, the storefront is the side hustle turned livelihood of Lisa Newcity and her partner Don Ruest. It all began during the pandemic when Ruest turned to woodworking as a pastime. Encouraged by Newcity, he began showing his pieces at community markets like the Providence Flea and Field of Artisans with much success, and the couple soon pondered the potential of turning the hobby into something more.
When a space in Bristol became available, Newcity and Ruest decided to take the leap into retail. Legend has it that the building was pushed across the bay in the 1930s, and while it needed a lot of work, the couple embraced the history and architectural details, which complement their sophisticated yet approachable vibe. Ruest cleaned up the wood beam ceilings, which adds to the rustic charm and mission of sustainability.
In his work, Ruest utilizes reclaimed and salvaged wood, “basically trash,” he explains with a chuckle, and upcycles vintage finds. He has a small workshop in the back of the store and a larger one at the couple’s home a few blocks away. Some of his pieces include cutting boards, wall art, and side tables. He also fulfills custom orders and offers engraved Rhode Island-themed gifts such as wall-mounted bottle openers.
Fenwick and Oliver also gave Newcity the physical space to develop her talents as a decorator. A simple glance around the store reveals that she is a natural at pairing textures to create luxurious and inviting spaces. Newcity has no formal training in interior design but possesses an innate talent that flourished as she helped Ruest set up for shows. “My favorite part would be setting up the booth,” she says. Now she has an entire store, which she styles in zones to help customers envision how things would look in their own homes.
In addition to Ruest’s handiwork, the shop carries lines by East Bay makers like Sakonnet Candles and Jorge Amado Ceramics. “We value commitment to handcrafted whenever possible as well as eco-friendly and fair trade products. So far, we’ve had a great response from the local community,” Newcity shares. “Our neighboring small business owners and retailers have been incredibly supportive and we’ve heard some nice feedback from people visiting the store.”
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