NORTH SMITHFIELD – Customers of The Budding Violet craft store and Red, White and Brew coffee shop on Great Road will find a welcoming space for visitors of all abilities.
The store, scheduled to open this weekend, carries crafts, furniture and other handmade items from local vendors and offers classes under the name The Budding Violet. On the other side of a partition, customers can pick up a coffee and get comfortable at one of several wooden tables at Red, White and Brew. The shop uses Ben’s Beans coffee from Putnam, Conn.
The business was inspired by owner Sheila Coyne’s family experiences with autism. Her son, Michael, has autism, and at 23, was looking for a place to work. When he had trouble finding employment at other local businesses, the family decided to take matters into their own hands.
“I said, well, if you can’t find a job and your friends can’t find a job, we’re going to make our own road,” she said.
The store, she said, will follow a model proven in many other family-owned New England businesses. In addition to hiring people with disabilities, she plans to include crafts made by people with disabilities among the local offerings. The hope, she said, is that the store becomes a model for other businesses. While some business owners think it would be difficult to integrate people with disabilities into their workforce, she said, small adjustments, such as using a barcode scanner instead of entering prices manually or getting a milk steamer that automatically shuts off, can make a world of difference.
“It’s making accommodations that I think the business community thinks is going to be costly, but it’s really not,” she said.
A true family effort, Sheila and Michael had help from many family members getting the business off the ground. The Budding Violet is named for Sheila’s grandparents, Bud and Violet, whose picture greets visitors when they walk in the door. Many of the crafts around the shop pay homage to the family’s background in law enforcement and the military.
Though they’re still finalizing the hours, Sheila said the shop will be open seven days a week, early enough on weekdays for pre-work coffee runs. Vendors interested in selling their handmade goods can contact The Budding Violet at 401-488-4822. The shop is located at 601 Great Road, across the street from North Smithfield Medical Center.