Elizabeth Yuill Owns Rhode Island’s Oldest Continuously Operating General Store

2013 Rhode Island Woman-owned

Small Business of the Year


Elizabeth Yuill owns Rhode Island’s oldest continuously operating general store


     Elizabeth Yuill’s retail career began at age seven when she began peddling her handmade jewelry, painted rocks and seashell mirrors to neighbors in her hometown of Lincoln, Rhode Island. Liz also enjoyed operating the calculator and writing pretend invoices in her uncle’s television repairs hop.  Without a doubt, Liz was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug early in life.

Fast forward to 1988.Liz and her mom opened a small gift store, Goose Crossing Country Store, in North Scituate.  They sold that business in 1994.  Two years later, Liz teamed with the new owner of Goose Crossing to open G. Willakers Country Store in Wickford.  She sold her interest in that business in 2003.

One year later, Yuill purchased the Brown & Hopkins Country Store in the village of Chepachet, R.I. It has been continually operating as such since 1809 and is officially the oldest store of its type in the state and one of the oldest in the nation.  She is the seventeenth operator/owner in approximately 200 years.

Liz purchased the real estate with a SBA-backed loan through Freedom National Bank. She also received consulting assistance from SBA’s Women’s Business Center in Rhode Island, the Center for Women & Enterprise.

The product mix under Yuill’s management consists of various gift items such as candles and accessories, local honey and maple syrup, New Hampshire-made fudge and other gourmet specialties, ladies clothing, seasonal décor, high quality faux florals and more.  The store also features an impressive selection of home décor such as framed prints, quilts, curtains, furniture, braided rugs, and local crafts.

The store employs six part time employees.  The staff is responsible for creating visually pleasing displays using the merchandise available.  Duties consist of everything from pricing merchandise to selling it; and from maintaining the cleanliness of the store to emptying the trash.  There is always something to do.

Customers are the number one priority.  Brown & Hopkins offers complimentary gift wrapping, special order service and will keep customers on their “wish list” if the store is out of stock on an item, calling the customer when it arrives.

The store’s customer base is mostly from Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts.  There is also an influx of tourists during the summer and autumn.

Brown & Hopkins also supports the community with its “Coffee Charity Club,” where 100 percent of the donations from the purchase of coffee, tea or cocoa are donated to the charity of the month.  Liz has supported over 75 different charities through this endeavor as well as donating to other fundraising efforts.

Each November the store hosts a “Thankful Gathering” where food items are collected for the local food pantry.  Brown & Hopkins matches one dollar per item donated to the cause.

Brown & Hopkins Country Store was named the “Best Gift Store in the Blackstone Valley in 2011” by Rhode Island Monthly Magazine.  It received the “Footsteps in History” award from the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council in 2009.

Liz is also very involved in her community.  She serves as secretary of the Glocester Business Association and also serves on its board of directors.  She has been a member of the Chepachet Candlelight Shopping Committee, and received the Joan M. Scorpio Award for Outstanding Community Service in 2010.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is pleased to honor Elizabeth L. Yuill, owner of Brown & Hopkins Country Store in Chepachet with the 2013 Rhode Island Woman-owned Small Business of the Year Award.

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