Treasures at every turn: Yankee Ingenuity of Chatham is not your average gift shop
Chatham gift shop Yankee Ingenuity truly lives up to its name—and that’s apparent even before stepping foot inside the store. Its quaint, rustic storefront at 525 Main Street harkens back to a bygone era. Atop the building, the “Yankee Ingenuity” sign is intentionally crooked, seemingly mounted to the shingling by a gold sculptural thumbtack. A “May The Force Be With You” sign on the front door greets guests.
At Yankee Ingenuity, there’s something for everyone. Jewelry, housewares, novelty items, children’s toys, and Cape and Islands photography are just some of the store’s thousands of products, ranging from $2 to $2,000. From the floor to the wood-beam trusses, the 900-square-foot showroom is filled with an eclectic mix of finds—sourced locally, nationally and internationally—that are unique to the store.
“Many people say we have a selection they haven’t seen before,” says Sharon Hayes, who runs Yankee Ingenuity with her husband, company founder Jon Vaughan. “It’s curated, but it’s a unique vision—one man’s vision, with a lot of whimsy.”
Founded in 1971 by Vaughan and his late first wife, Lynne, Yankee Ingenuity has been at its current location on Chatham’s Main Street since 1975 and was originally an antique shop. “When I first opened,” says Vaughan, “I cleaned and repaired antique clocks. I also carried a pretty extensive line of marine antiques… and I taught myself how to refinish those things.” By the late ’80s, as antiques became expensive, Yankee Ingenuity morphed into a contemporary craft shop. Vaughan found a way to continue his passion for antiquing, as he and Lynn set out to create a space as unique as the items found within it.
“I started buying unique pieces and repurposing them, turning them into display cases,” Vaughan says. Today, these display cases—including a Victorian dressing screen, vintage movie-poster cases, an air scoop from a WWII ship, two portable confessionals, and an antique brass snare drum—are found throughout the store.
When it comes to filling these cases, Hayes says their philosophy is simple: “If we like it, we buy it.” Porcelain night-lights, scallop shell ornaments, and Vaughan’s book of photography, “Coastal Effects”—all available in the Cape Cod Life General Store—are among Yankee Ingenuity’s most popular products. Among the unique items available in-store are fossilized shark teeth, sea urchins and ammonites; a sterling silver purse made from an abalone shell; and steampunk sculptural pieces, including dragon and skull heads. “It’s not what you’d normally expect in a Cape Cod gift shop,” Hayes says. “We try to find what you won’t see in every other store.”
Check out products from Yankee Ingenuity in the Cape Cod Life General Store
Yankee Ingenuity • 525 Main Street, Chatham • 508-945-1288 • yankee-ingenuity.com