By Mary Smith
There is pressure from all angles to recycle; many of us even have special bins for paper, plastic, and glass. But who knew recycling could also mean shopping? According to Jennifer Ricci, owner and operator of Rocket to Mars, buying secondhand clothing accessories and housewares is the ultimate form of recycling. Ricci, who says she has always been interested in the history of things, gathers her vintage and antique wares from all over New England by making house calls,Â scouring flea markets,Â and attending auctions. She selects items from the 1920s through the late 1970s – you will find nothing traditional at her shop, no collectables, no Hummels! Everything is one-of-a-kind, comes inÂ all shapes and sizes, and ranges from books to couches.
For children, Ricci has an assortment of fun fabrics and clothing patternsÂ and retro toys, including tea sets, board games, and books. Looking around her shop, I began to wonder if the objects that I used to value so much as a child are the same ones that children value today. I saw an assortment of penny banks that reminded me of the cow-shaped bank I used to hide under my bed. Rocket to Mars is an oasis for lost toys–lost in the sense that they have been passed over by hi-tech gadgets. Ricci contends that the objects she sells are not disposable like most of the objects made today. Her items are sturdy, they are creative, they are unique.
In the back of the shop, an assortment of retro clothing brings even more life to the objects displayed along the walls and on the shelves. Bright colors and prints our parents wore make coy mention of a simpler, less expendable way of life. Additionally, Ricci sells children’s clothing, including toddler T-shirts by brands such as Health-Tex and Carter. The tiny suits and dresses on display invite the imagination to wonder whether the garments were made by someone’s mother or were bought and handed down through multiple siblings over the course ofÂ a decade or longer.
It is no surprise that in today’s economy and in keeping with the current anti-conspicuous consumption trend, people are flocking to secondhand thrift stores. Rocket to Mars makes thrift shopping an adventure: it is where personalities go to dress themselves, and where foragers go to feel invigorated by the thrill of the hunt. While Ricci’s store is filled with toys, shoes, clothes, furniture, and jewelry, she suggests checking out What Cheer! for other vintage items such as photographs, magazines, records, and small trinkets.
Rocket to Mars
144 Broadway Providence, RI 02903
Hours: Wednesday-Friday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday from 12 p.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m.-5 p.m.
7 S. Angell Street in Wayland Square, Providence, RI 02906
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday from 12 p.m.-5 p.m.
Mary Smith is a freelance writer who lives on the West Side of Providence. She spends her time working at a cafÃ©, writing short stories, and rollerskating for the Providence Roller Derby.