Warwick Jam Spreads Flavor and Entrepreneurship for Son with Autism

Family business specializes in sweet and savory jams and sauces

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You may have driven by Wood Boat and Motor in Warwick before without ever realizing a quaint retail jam joint resides right inside, with a selection as groovy as the Bob Marley song the name nods to. We Be Jammin’ opened six years ago as a pop-up at spots like Pawtuxet Village Park and Hope Artiste Village for farmers markets, where the labels slowly became a mainstay of top-notch preserved goods.

Owner Debbie Wood explains that the business started slow by design for her son Jason, whose autism makes social interaction a challenge. “We were unsure how well he would handle it, but he seemed to enjoy the social interaction, which is not typical,” Debbie says. “He would high-five the customers and eagerly bag up the purchases, tip his baseball cap, and say, ‘Thank you and enjoy!’ Soon he would ask when we would sell the jam again.” Debbie knew Jason needed to engage in the outside world in a way that would be meaningful and enjoyable, and the decision for him to run a business peddling fruit preserves was natural – jam on toast is one of Jason’s personal favorites, especially with so many varieties to choose from. Debbie explains, “It helped a great deal with his verbal skills by having choices. He began to use complete sentences when asking and choosing his breakfast.”

And the choices are many – think 75 products, all made specially for We Be Jammin’. Over time, demand grew, and new flavors and lines of products were added, which can now all be found in the retail shop, along with gift baskets and some handmade soaps and candles. You can still rely on the mother-and-son duo to bring you classics like raspberry and bestseller Strawberry Rhubarb jam, but thrill seekers can also indulge in some Blackberry Jalapeño Jam, Ghost Pepper Ketchup, and Fiery Buffalo Sauce. Condiment offerings – like Sweet Baby Beets and bread-and-butter pickles – salad dressings, barbecue sauces and marinades, and creative salsas (including one with bacon!) ensure there’s something for everyone’s jam.

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