Two Downtown Chatham Businesses To Share Space
By: Elizabeth Van Wye
Island Pursuits Moves Into Chatham Hardware Building
by Elizabeth Van Wye
This is a tale of two businesses.
Island Pursuit wanted to stay in Chatham, but after 12 years, the clothing business was faced with rent that was no longer affordable. Chatham Hardware, under a succession of owners, has been housed in the iconic Main Street location since 1936. They faced a changed business model and more space than they needed.
This is also a story of two Michaels, business owners who last January didn't know each other and then worked together to craft a win/win solution for both of their businesses.
Michael Colecchio, co-owner of Chatham Hardware, recalled a snowy day last January. "I always take a ride down Main Street to see what's going on before opening," he said. That day he saw Michael Valentino and his wife Laurie Gomes Valentino shoveling the snow in front of Island Pursuit with a U-Haul parked at the curb. Island Pursuit was closing and it gave him the germ of an idea. Could the two businesses team up and share a space?
When he returned to Chatham Hardware he looked up Island Pursuit on their website, reached out and wound up talking with Valentino that same day while he and Laurie were having lunch at the Squire. Colecchio explained what he had in mind and recalled Valentino saying, "we'd love to take a look."
The Valentinos, who own four other Island Pursuit stores in Florida as well as Newport and Mystic, Conn., had reluctantly closed the Chatham location.
"The economics were just not working for us," Gomes Valentino said. Their landlord was wonderful to work with but the retail environment was difficult and the numbers just didn't work out, she explained.
After checking out the Chatham Hardware space, the owners agreed they could divide it, with Island Pursuit in the front third of the store. They would share the big display windows and for the first time Island Pursuit shoppers would have access to a free parking lot right outside the store. Renovations to that area would include central air and heating, painting and refurbished floors.
Chatham Hardware would be located towards the back of the store, near the loading dock and parking lot entrance, which has been a plus for their shoppers. They would also make over a storage area as a room for Weber grills and equipment, one of the store’s popular items.
Since the move was announced on social media, Island Pursuit has been thrilled with the response from its customers, who are delighted to have the business stay in town, Gomes Valentino said. Island Pursuit has a robust website at www.islandpursuit.com, which has helped them stay afloat during the pandemic, she added.
"It was heartbreaking to have to close our Chatham location," she recalled. "But now the feedback has been wonderfully positive and we're in a better position to continue and stay in town."
While the newly reconfigured Chatham Hardware remains open as an essential business, Gomes Valentino said that for Island Pursuit the opening date in the new space will depend on when businesses like theirs are authorized to open by Gov. Baker.
"Maybe Memorial Day? Maybe the Fourth of July?" she wondered. They are thrilled to be able to stay in Chatham and are delighted at the happily ever after ending of this tale.
She credits Mike Colecchio with reaching out to another small business, even though he didn't know them.
"That's the most exciting part. Businesses are looking out for each other," she said. "That doesn't happen everywhere. How beautiful to see that in a small town."