WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — For most retailers, the last weekend in November is their big moneymaker. But for Operation Made in Warwick – it’s this weekend that business is booming.
The shop boasts more than 500 items made by more than 50 vendors, all of them veterans and military families.
The business at 1050 Tollgate Road opened its doors one year ago on Veterans Day weekend.
“I’m making key chain leaves,” Lenny Doeg said, calling it a hobby.
“I was just making this stuff and putting it in my garage,” he added with a laugh.
But now, the former U.S. soldier turned self-taught blacksmith is a businessman selling his creations at Operation Made.
“I get to put my stuff out there and people… a good response with it,” Doeg said.
On Saturday, he joined other veteran vendors and their spouses in showcasing their work during the store’s “Meet the Makers” weekend.
“Just a way to meet the actual vendors,” owner Nicole O’Brien said. “Like our open house.”
For first-time shoppers Michael and Liz Chase, the concept was the draw.
“I didn’t know it was here. I would have come a long time ago,” Michael Chase said.
Each veteran vendor receives 70% of the sale of his or her product.
“I think it’s a wonderful way to help veterans,” Liz Chase said.
But the craftsmanship is the catch that keeps people shopping.
“Every time you look at it, you remember the sacrifice these people made for us and now the beauty that gets to live on in your home,” customer Cassandra Benoit said.
O’Brien’s time behind the register is a testimony that many have caught on to her vision.
“Every week we get busier and busier so it’s amazing,” she said.
You can learn more about Operation Made and this special vendor weekend on their Facebook page.