Small claims is a type of civil procedure. As of this writing, the amount in controversy is limited to twenty five hundred dollars ($2,500) see R.I. Gen. Laws § 10-16-1.
For the most part, notice in small claims actions is given by certified mail. R.I. Gen. Laws § 10-16-5. A refusal by the defendant of certified mail is valid service. See Dist. Ct. R. Small Claims Proc. 5.01(a).
If the small claims notice is unclaimed, the notice to the defendant is made by process server (including a constable). See Dist. Ct. R. Small Claims Proc. 5.01 (b). Service is made by serving the defendant, by leaving the summons at the usual place of abode (with a person of suitable age and discretion), or with an agent authorized by appointment or law to receive service.