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Creative Energy and Business is Blooming in Dennisport

by Kate Sheehan

After a decade in Washington D.C., Carlyn Carey returned to Cape Cod in 2006. The downtown Dennisport she found bore little resemblance to the one she remembered.

"After I left, it declined significantly," Carlyn explains. "I saw the blight, the empty stores, and felt compelled (to get involved). I wanted my daughter to have a nice place to live and a community to be proud of."

Carlyn joined the Dennisport Revitalization Committee, which she ultimately co-chaired for several years. The committee set out to "strengthen the area economy, revitalize the village and enhance the quality of life in Dennis Port Village," a mission that Carlyn quickly realized required rolling up her sleeves and engaging residents and businesses alike.

Today, evidence of revitalization is clear along Dennisport's Main Street, thanks to momentum built by the committee, a property manager with a vision, and a group of business owners who were willing to take risks to bring new life to the community.

Among those who showed up to catalyze change was Fred McFadden of Summit Realty Partners. In the fall of 2010, the group purchased the property now stretching from Buckies Biscotti to Jeremy's Barber Shop. A Milton resident with lifelong connections to the Cape, Fred saw an opportunity to bring year-round sustainability to the block.

"It was a dilapidated street and it was getting worse and worse," according to Fred. "Our goal from the beginning was to bring in the right mix of businesses to make it work."

Enter Alyson Bucchiere of Buckies Biscotti, one of the first new businesses to commit to the space. Fred envisioned anchoring the block with a coffee shop, which made perfect sense to Allyson. "It's the heart of a town, where people meet and hang out," she says.

Alyson explains that while she took a risk in being one of the first on the block to open, "(success) is about being excited about business," even in the face of challenges.

Her determination and willingness to be a year-round presence was an important element for Fred, who was looking for business models that could "tough it out" during the winter months and "flourish during the summer."

Despite the lines that form at Buckies May through September as visitors queue up for breakfast and lunch, Alyson feels strongly that "we have to be open for year-rounders. They maintain our business; locals really support us."

Buckies Biscotti

And it's not just the regulars whom Allyson feels a responsibility to. "Cultivating a company is part of my premise. I want to teach people to work hard, make them responsible and empower them. It's important to me to be open year-round, employing staff consistently."

On Memorial Day weekend a second Buckies will open at 554 Route 28, in Harwich Port. This store will be open every day at 6:30am and open at night for the summer season.

A sense of community also attracted Nicole Merriman of Hot Diggity Dog Wash and Boutique, which occupies the space next door to Buckies. Already established in Mashpee Commons, Nicole never set out to open a second location.

"My husband and I came to Buckies for coffee and saw the space next door. The idea for the dog wash and grooming just came to me in a moment and my husband said, 'Cool, we need to make that happen.'"

In their first year in Dennisport, Hot Diggity has built a loyal following from near and far. "We've had a great first year. I believe in the services we provide and I'm so passionate about seeing dogs and owners together. It's why I can keep going. It's so simple," Nicole says.

Hot Diggity's Emily serving up doggy treats

A common theme among the business owners is that while it takes a tremendous amount of work to stay afloat throughout the year, they are in it together and committed to making it work. "We're all trying to help each other drive business," Nicole observes, each striving to provide support to the others through cross-promotions or simply being a sounding board for ideas.

Lending itself to the upbeat, creative feel of the block is the De CASTELLANE GALLERY, owned by Brewster native Hans De Castellane.


A muralist and painter, Hans was commissioned by the Dennisport Revitalization Committee to paint a large-scale mural of an historic schooner on a wall facing the Hall Street side of the Summit Realty property. The completed work serves as a way to literally and figuratively bring color to the area.

Rather than being just a space to "hang and sell art," Hans' gallery is evolving into a place to learn and engage. His Friday-night Ladies' Paint Parties consistently sell out and he teaches painting to small groups of children. Recently he began a mural on the walls of Buckies, a work-in-progress that has become a conversation piece in the café.

Hans shares the collaborative sentiment of his fellow business owners and appreciates that they are growing together with the support of their property manager. As Hans says, "Fred cares. He's passionate about who comes in here and isn't just taking the next business who wants to sign a lease."

Timing does seem to be everything when it comes to filling out the stores on the block. "About two and a half years ago, Leigh and I got it in our heads to open a second studio," explains Jill Abraham, owner of Power Yoga of Cape Cod Harwich and co-owner with Leigh Alberti of Power Yoga of Cape Cod Dennisport. "We weren't in a rush. The main thing was that we wanted it to be centrally located and easily accessible."

The timing wasn't right when they first saw the Main Street space, but it was still available when Jill crossed paths with Fred two years later in Buckies. Leigh feels "there was definitely a very serendipitous quality to the whole thing – like we were meant to be in that space at this time."

"From the very beginning, what attracted us the most to the space was the community of Dennisport, being with like-minded businesses, being a part of growing and improving the area, and bringing yoga to a really great part of the Cape," she says.

Experience Revitalized Dennisport for Yourself!

Be sure check out these wonderful businesses as well as others in the area, and follow them on Facebook for news about events and specials. (Note that work is underway on the Upper County Bridge, so look for detour signs to bring you downtown).

Auntie's Ice Cream Parlor, 671 Main St., (508) 619-3174
Buckies Biscotti, 681 Main St., (508) 398-9700
De Castellane Gallery, 669 Main St., (508) 292-0959
Dennisport Natural Market, 640 Main St., (508) 760-3043
Hot Diggity Dog Wash & Boutique, 677 Main Street, (508) 258-0208
Power Yoga of Cape Cod Dennisport, 675 Main St., (774) 237-2773

If you are interested in volunteering your time, contact the Dennisport Revitalization Committee.

To that end, Jill and Leigh already have exciting plans to partner with another woman-owned business just down the street. "I didn't realize that there were so many female business owners on the block until Jill and I went for a walk from business to business the other day, to meet the neighbors," says Leigh.

While not a part of the block being developed by Summit Realty, the Dennisport Natural Market is integral to its development. Owner Rory Eames – who, like Carlyn Carey, is a Dennisport native who returned and is raising a daughter here – is thrilled about the developments down the street.

"Everyone thought we were crazy," Rory declares when asked about her family's decision to open their second natural foods market in Dennisport (they have been operating the Chatham Natural Market for over three decades). "But this is a great location for us – there are more younger families and it's more affordable."

Rory in her Dennisport
Natural Market

"We're happy to have so many other like-minded people on Main Street," Rory says. "There's such an offering of great businesses. Now you can get a cup of coffee, take a yoga class, drop your dog off to be groomed, and get an ice cream at Auntie's or come over here for a juice."

With the burgeoning demand for a broad selection of organic, gluten- and allergen-free foods, Dennisport Natural Market has the advantage of personalized customer service. Grocery shoppers are greeted by name, with the warmth only found at independent local stores.

Rory is excited that the Market's new juice bar will be open by this spring, enabling them to serve certified organic juices, smoothies, and wheatgrass shots. And, she plans on offering guided cleanses and nutrition workshops in partnership with Power Yoga of Cape Cod.

New additions to the Main Street business community are just around the corner, and all are confident that they will be in keeping with the positive direction they have worked hard to create. "There's energy here," Hans says with a smile. "It's good to see 'opening soon' signs."

Carlyn Carey is also enthusiastic about the transformation she sees along Main Street. "Nothing can change unless you have a critical mass of people who care enough to accomplish something. Things get done by the people who show up and get involved."

Photos by Jill Abraham & Kate Sheehan

Kate Sheehan

After 12 years with two Fortune 100 companies, Kate Sheehan left her corporate communications job and moved from New York home to Cape Cod, where she founded Telltale Media. In doing so, she combined her passion for helping businesses and individuals tell their stories most effectively with her desire to create more meaning in her own life.

Through Telltale, Kate specializes in freelance writing (from marketing copy to web content to speeches), communications consulting, brand identity, and PR/media relations. She also is a co-founder of Love.Live.Local., a fresh perspective on the Cape for locals and visitors.

Kate lives in Barnstable with Scout, the best dog in the world.