Store owners across the Cape have discovered that switching up their locales adds to the excitement of sharing their wares and services with customers near and far.By Lisa Cavanaugh | Photography by Dan Cutrona
A Little Local Shift
Toward the western end of downtown Hyannis, where Main Street diverges into two one-way avenues, you will find a relaxed retail space called the LoveLocal Collective. It is the culmination of a decades-long friendship between Jen Villa and Amanda Converse.
The Little Beach Gallery and Shift Eco Boutique were next-door neighbors that have now become roommates. “A business is always trying to cut overhead in ways that make sense, but even more important is the chance to refresh,” says Converse. “It keeps both the consumer and retailer engaged.”
The South Street location also houses Devinto clothing, The Local Juice (which also opens up onto Potter Avenue) and the office for the local guidebook and festival enterprise, Love Live Local. Kate Sheehan, who co-founded Love Live Local with Villa and Converse, feels the new collective space aligns well with their mission. “It makes the customer’s experience more relational than transactional,” says Sheehan. “Each of the businesses can grow organically and not worry about traditional retail rules.”
Once the group decided the move was the right one for everyone involved, they acted quickly to reinterpret the space. Villa, who owns the building, had two interior walls removed, which created enough room for Aiste Zitnikaite to work onsite creating her fashion lines for Devinto, and for The Local Juice (co-founded by Villa with dietician Nicole Cormier) to have a more accessible entry into the shopping area.
“We’re having fun with the collaborative space,” says Villa. “And the beautiful thing about the new setup is sharing schedules and finances between the three of us.” For both she and Converse, the consolidation also gave them a chance to refine their inventory. “Scaling back gave me the ideal situation of selling exactly what I love,” says Converse, “and what people connect to the most.”
LoveLocal Collective, 539 South St., Hyannis, also on Facebook
Sometimes you need a bit more space, sometimes a bit less. This was true for Melissa Cox and Bridget Cahill, who swapped shops in Dennis Village earlier this spring. Cox’s Scout Vintage Home & Garden, which features unique items from France as well as locally sourced goods, was bursting at its seams in the approximately 400-square-foot space at 776 Route 6A. Cahill’s partnership in the retail and design shop Deep Blue—located just several hundred yards east—was coming to a close in December when the idea of exchanging locations first came up.
“I was heading into my fifth year at Scout, when I went over to Deep Blue to wish them a Merry Christmas,” says Cox. “I mentioned to them that I really needed more space, and they said, ’Wanna trade?’”
“The old Scout location was actually what inspired Amy and me to become shop owners in the first place,” says Cahill, referring to her former Deep Blue partner, Amy Mason. “Once that dreamy little space was available, I just knew I had to do it.” Cahill named her new store Seaside Design Studio and Shop, after the bathroom remodeling and design company she has owned for 15 years. She refinished the interior walls and built a large cabinet with a soapstone top to serve as a combination checkout counter and design consultation surface. “All the local products I sell—pottery, jewelry, art—tie into my coastal farmhouse aesthetic,” says Cahill. “I’m so happy here. This is a manageable retail space that feels really cohesive with my design services.”
Cox had the two levels of the old barn at 800 Main St. repainted in a color palette of soft greens, grays and blues. “A little panic set in on how to fill up 1,400 square feet,” she says, with a laugh, “but the colors had a calming effect and bringing in vintage items from storage that I had never displayed before made me really happy.” She added other products, such as imported soaps and linens, to complete her signature French farmhouse theme. “I want customers to feel like they are meandering through a marketplace,” says Cox. “I believe it is very important to be unique and I strive to scout for things that you won’t see everywhere.”
Seaside Design Studio and Shop, 776 Main St., Dennis, Route 6A, 508-385-3410, also on Facebook
Scout Vintage Home & Garden, 800 Main St., Route 6A, Dennis, 508-385-4545
Moving and Merging
There has been a lot of activity at the 400 block of Main Street in Chatham over the past several months. The venerable M. Smith and Company Social Stationers merged with Frances Johnston Boutique to create Johnston & Smith. Meanwhile, Chatham Thread Works jumped next door to take up residence in the space vacated by M. Smith.
“It was kismet,” says Beth Ryan, who, along with husband Terry, is the owner of Chatham Thread Works, a monogramming boutique. “We lucked out that Jane was moving because we love this space, which is about double the size of our old store.”
Terry’s machine shop at the back of the building where he does embossing and monogramming of the store’s merchandise, is now directly accessible to the front of the store.
The additional square footage will also allow the husband-and-wife team, who opened the store a few years after moving to the Cape full time in 2009, to expand their product inventory. “We will now monogram vinyl and acrylics,” says Beth. “This space is perfect for who we are and what we do. Plus, by only moving a door down, everyone can still find us!”
For Jane Leonard, the building at 400 Main St. has been home for 20 years. She bought her company from her employer, the original owner M. Smith, and has occupied several different spaces in the structure over the years. But merging with Frances Johnston, whose women’s and children’s clothing boutique has been on site for a decade, is a wonderful solution for the experienced social stationer. “We both wanted the freedom of a shared space,” says Leonard. “Now if I’m not here, Fran knows what I do and can
show clients invitation proofs or paper samples.”
“We fit together so well, as both of our lines are classics,” says Johnston. “It is also more profitable, with twice the income and only one rent.” To accommodate Leonard’s consultations, they carved a private room out of Johnston’s retail space. An added benefit is that visitors will discover both of the women’s products and services. “Somebody who would have only come into her store now sees my side of the business,” says Leonard. “And the opposite, too,” adds Johnston. “The mothers of the brides see my children’s section and start planning ahead for when they will be grandmothers!”
Chatham Thread Works, 400 Main St., 508-348-5179
Johnston & Smith, 400 Main St., 508-945-9300/508-945-4734