NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — This year an iconic Wickford store is celebrating 50 years in business, and though it has moved around several times throughout the village, owner Bethany Mazza couldn’t be more proud of the current spot.
“I haven’t really thought about the anniversary,” she said. “We’ve had a very busy year and the daily tasks catch up to you. Owning a small boutique is in a little industry and for Green Ink to have been around for 50 years and still going incredibly strong, it’s an accomplished feeling.”
Mazza hasn’t always been in the fashion industry — she has a degree in landscape architecture. But there was something about Green Ink that kept bringing her back. “I couldn’t let it go. I realized that the co-workers and customers were my people.”
Green Ink was started by her mother Bee Given in 1972. The motto was “Dress well without too much fuss.” The first location was at 5 West Main St. from 1972 to 1978, where it was an artist’s studio. Local artists made handmade leather handbags and accessories. Bee would attend craft and apparel shows to sell her work, then after some time she began buying her favorite things to sell in the studio along with her own personal items.
The store’s name has a few connotations in it – since black ink in accounting terms means “profit” and red ink means a “loss,” Bee hoped the store would be profitable and since she was an artist and red is the opposite of green on the color wheel, she chose to call the store Green Ink, instead of black ink which sounded a bit “dark.”
The second location was from 1978 to 1987 at 11 West Main St., a few doors down and into a larger space, where they carried more clothing, shoes and accessories. This timeframe is when Bethany began working in the store. The next location was from 1987 to 2009 at 17 Brown St., and this allowed the business to expand further. The current location opened in 2009 and offers 3,000 square-feet of space.
“From inception, we wanted to carry clothes that made people feel good in, things to express their personality and fabrics and brands that fit good,” she added. The store still carries brands from when they first opened and has used some vendors for decades. Mazza travels throughout the year to trade shows in New York and Las Vegas to stay current with trends.
When asked her secret to staying in business for 50 years, she simply said “problem solving.”
“If you know how to handle situations and solve them effectively, there you have it. And, if you can feel vibes from people that also helps in dealing with situations. Additionally, having a great staff that supports your ideas and want to see the business succeed is also a plus,” said Mazza.
In 2018, Mazza, in what she called her “mid-life crisis,” opened up a second storefront in Wayland Square. The landlord had been looking for a clothing store to add to the existing stores and contacted Mazza asking if she would be interested in opening another location. She had been thinking about it and looked into Garden City but decided it wouldn’t be a good fit due to that center’s rules and restrictions. Opening in Wayland Square has allowed Green Ink to stay independent, Mazza said. The second location offers all the same brands that Wickford carries as well as accessories and gifts.
“Wayland Square is such a lovely location. The nice part is you can have dinner and then walk to all the stores. Since opening the store has done extremely well and I couldn’t be happier.”
Bee retired in 2013 and Mazza took over. But Bee is still a presence in the store, having a green thumb, she helps maintains the window boxes and helps out with various events.
Reflecting on the past 50 years, Mazza wants people to associate Green Ink as timeless, fun, comfortable, easy, colorful, artful, curated and quality styles.
For more information on Green Ink, visit www.greeninkboutique.com or follow them on Facebook.