These two shops on Route 6A have a special connection
Simply Seaside Vintage
Photo by Kirsten Doherty
Two eclectic shops and their innovative owners mix-up design, décor and traditional business practices
As Cathy Dupuy sits behind the counter of Simply Vintage of Cape Cod, she rests her chin on her hand and offers a smile and helpful words to a customer who has just entered the store. Exhibiting an effortlessly preppy Cape Cod style, her red tinted lips, simple gray blouse, cropped straight leg jeans, and flip flops are the epitome of Cape Cod style—enhanced by classic a strand of pearls to contrast her olive skin and dark hair. A wooden sign behind Dupuy leans on the window sill and states: “Positive attracts Positive,” a vintage Chanel No.5 perfume bottle and a delicate flower necklace along with other trinkets surround her and blend seamlessly with the myriad of eclectic finds. To complete the sensory scenario, the dulcet tones of Edith Piaf, Frank Sinatra, and similarly classic artists float through the air in the store, creating a mellow antique atmosphere.
Ten minutes down the road, Bridget Cahill spins around the wooden floors of Seaside Design, her blonde-streaked beach locks twirling around her. There is a distinct welcoming and calming effect about Cahill. Her laid-back boho vibes are ingrained throughout the store. Cahill notices a woman wandering around the front of her store, “Come in! Come in,” Cahill offers to the woman, even after she’s already been “closed” for 20 minutes. In addition to the irresistible ‘pick-up’ items that are found on every available surface, a customized bathroom vanity sits against the right facing wall. The plaid wallpaper behind the vignette plays up the farm style and helps to accent the brass fixtures.
The two women, and their stores, have more in common than not. Both have invested their heart, soul, blood, sweat and probably a few tears, not to mention precious funds, into local businesses that might not turn the head of loan officers focused on business plans and rates of return. For these two entrepreneurs, the concept of return on investment has everything to do with a steadily growing audience of savvy clients, casual shoppers and loyal followers.
Simply Vintage of Cape Cod, like its name, sits simply along vintage Route 6A in Yarmouth Port. Dupuy has owned the space for over a year now, but has been in the antique business since she moved back to the Cape about eight years ago. Seaside Design’s Cahill has been in the refurbished antique business for over 6 years. Together these two women have built a friendship that is as timeless as the antiques they sell, and as their relationship flourishes so too do their businesses, which benefit from their deliberate efforts of cooperation. In this age of unique brand identities and strategies to increase market share, these two business owners, recognizing that they have exactly the same target demographic and probably the same client list, have made a decision to collaborate instead of compete.
“I met Bridget standing in line at a monthly antique and vintage sale called Vintage Thymes, in Norwood,” Dupuy says of Cahill. The two antique-savvy women had mutual friends that introduced them at the event about 5 years ago. Since then they’ve kept in touch and always try to help boost each other’s businesses. “She sends people my way; I send people her way,” Cahill says of their harmonious relationship.
Dupuy and Cahill have even worked together on local projects. “We did a market called Buoys and Burlap. It was a sort of traveling antique show with multiple dealers,” Dupuy says. Burlap, a no-nonsense, utility fabric often used for things like feed bags, was all the rage when the women were trying to come up with a name for the show. “I still love burlap,” Dupuy admits with a grin and sly shrug of her shoulders.
Like many residents who make deliberate choices to live on the Cape, both Dupuy and Cahill are avid beach goers and admit that it’s something they enjoy doing together when they are not working. “I go to the beach. I shop. I garden. I love to garden. I walk my dog and play with my dog. I love my dog,” Dupuy enthuses. She pulls out a photo of her beloved Aussie Doodle named Lucy at the beach with a sand-crusted nose. Cahill is also a beach gypsy—something that is supremely evident in the style of her shop. “If I have a day when I’m not working, which I try for Sundays, I go to the beach—whether I walk on the beach, sit on the beach, drive on the beach, read on the beach, or go to the beach at night,” she says. “I grew up here. I’ve been living on the Cape since I was 11, and the beach is my place to be.” Cahill and Dupuy’s mutual love of the beach directly translates to their design. Both shops feature lots of natural wood, coastal tones and textures, and themed signs that seem to have been expropriated from beachside communities. Each of the women specialize in repurposing old furniture and crafting those pieces into newly born wonders using chalk paints. Dupuy and Cahill began their businesses in the same way: it started as a hobby, as something they loved spending their time doing, and that passion is evident in the careful décor they’ve chosen, the uniquely crafted items that call the visitors to their stores, and the creative ways in which they’ve set up their shops to let their individual styles shine.
“My kids, Shane, Alexandra and Caroline, were gone and it was time to work again, because I had been home for about 20 years,” Dupuy says. “When I first met my husband Damian we were very young, and we didn’t have a lot of money. He was in training to be a doctor and I was a teacher. So we used to go around to yard sales and thrift shops and look in antique stores to furnish our home.” Dupuy’s mutual hobby with her husband sprouted into her business today. “We’ve always loved old homes, my husband and I. That was part of the love of old things and bringing things back and fixing things. It started with the furniture, and then the houses. And here I am, still doing it.”
One of Dupuy’s passions is sustainability. Her respect for the environment fuels her goal to keep her shop mostly filled with vintage, refurbished or antique pieces, as opposed to new retail. “Nature is the thing I’m most passionate about. That’s why I like to do what I do here. I have a little bit of new retail, but mostly we are making old things new again, so it’s very light on the environment—not throwing things away, fixing them up. Most of these older things have stood the test of time and will continue to do so.”
At Simply Vintage, two oval back-shaped dining chair have delicate carvings in the wooden legs. Dupuy explains that when she purchased them they had hideous mint green silk upholstery on the cushions. Instead of reupholstering the chairs, she painted them. Now the set looks like they’re upholstered in a luxurious creamy leather. She credits her support from her stockist, Nancy Chace of Sea Rose Cottage, for her sales of Chalk Paint and wax products by Annie Sloan which she uses in creative ways to give yesterday’s furniture pieces a lift that they often need.
Cahill didn’t have as direct a route into the retail antique business as Dupuy. Cahill received all of her schooling in the field of law. In the midst of law school she got pregnant and decided to put her law career on hold, feeling it wasn’t the right path for her. “When my kids were little I would find old pieces of furniture and refinish them, for our own home and even for friends and family. I even did a piece for myself that was a bathroom vanity.” A good friend of Cahill’s owned a tile store and was impressed with that same refurbished vanity. She offered Cahill the opportunity to sell her pieces in her tile store, and that exposure was Cahill’s glimpse into the under-staffed bathroom design world.
When Cahill’s youngest son was in middle school, she felt like it was time to go back to work. “I had already built my own home and really liked the idea of having a concept in my head and putting it together… I had no background in architecture or building, I decided rather than going back to school I would just focus on learning about contracting and building, so I got my contractors license.” After accomplishing the task of getting a contractors license as a woman, she decided to present her services as a bathroom designer because she had so much fun doing the bathrooms she’d already done and “nobody specializes in bathrooms. People specialize in kitchens and then they do bathrooms on the side, but nobody just does bathrooms.”
Twenty years later, she’s completed over 100 bathrooms. “Because most of my design work has been in the off-season I decided to get into retail six years ago. During my summers I had more time on my hands. My kids were all working and they didn’t need me to get them to the beach anymore,” she jokes. Bathrooms are still as big part of Cahill’s store. A porcelain, vintage, footed bathtub sits in the front of the store. The tub is filled to the brim with flowers. And Cahill always keeps a bathroom vignette as a focal point in her store. “I can’t not work because I have all these ideas. So the shop and the design allows me to get things out of my head.”
Two women with similar passions are a force to be reckoned with, and the mid-Cape is lucky to have Dupuy and Cahill bringing their expertise to the area. Always working together rather than against each other, they’ve curated a unique relationship and an equally interesting assortment of antiques and collectibles for Cape shoppers. Their friendship and their combined passion and dedication to their businesses is something to be admired and something that surely represents the type of harmonious, welcoming spirit that the Cape embodies.
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