What’s in a name? Quite a bit, as it turns out. Who would have believed that after many years in business, people still ask us how the name Zero Wampum came about? Well, to answer that question, here is a brief history of the best gift store in Rhode Island.
In the early 1970’s, two brothers, Gerald and Ken Richmond, and one woman, Amy Richmond, opened a little gift shop on Wampum Road in Narragansett, Rhode Island. Because the store location was the first building on the corner of Rt. 1A and Wampum Road and because it did not have an official house number, the name Zero Wampum was chosen.
Wampum is the inside of a quahog shell and was the traditional currency of the local Native Americans. It is a beautiful violet and white shell and is still made into lovely jewelry today (we carry it in the store). Even today, we are often asked if everything in the store is free, or is it that we have no money. The name Zero Wampum is still a source of wonder, humor, and originality.
In that first “Zero”, Amy, Gerry, and Ken sold wooden toys and leather belts, which were made on the premises. Zero’s selection grew to include items made by American craftsmen, handcrafted American Indian jewelry, a variety of house plants, the toys and belts, plus an assortment of other unique gifts. Sometime around 1978, Zero outgrew it’s tiny location and moved to Old Tower Hill Road, the same location as today, but on the opposite end of the building. The two guys went on to run Feet First shoe store, while Amy managed Zero with the help of her sister, Sue. By 1990, we had moved to a large, newly renovated space, our current location, and, as they say, the rest is history. We celebrate 40+ years of business, and feel very fortunate to have been a part of the South County community for so long. Our thanks to our loyal and wonderful customers. We look forward to seeing all of you soon at Zero Wampum.