Flying Things Are Their Business: Ducks In The Window Owners Buy Dr. Gravity's Kite Shop
By: Debra Lawless
The husband and wife co-owners of Ducks in the Window on Main Street, Chatham now own a second business, on Main Street, Harwich — the iconic Dr. Gravity’s Kite Shop.
Rob Foster and his wife Colette Cummings bought Dr. Gravity’s Kite Shop at 560 Main St. (Route 28) from owner Peter Hurst in December.
“There’s a synergy between the shops,” Cummings said during a telephone interview last week. Both businesses are located on their town’s Main Street, both businesses sell toys, and the customer base is similar.
Cummings adds that “having two businesses on the Cape is an amazing way to grow.”
When Cummings and Foster learned Dr. Gravity’s was for sale, they met with Hurst, who told them he wanted the business to remain Dr. Gravity’s Kite Shop and preferred that the business be owned locally. Hurst said that he knew the couple had created “a very strong brand” with Ducks in the Window, which they bought in 2015, and also had “an incredible work ethic,” Cummings said. So, the sale was made.
Hurst stayed on for one month to help with the transition. The store was closed in January and February for a reorganization, and then reopened in March.
Hurst established Dr. Gravity’s 45 years ago, in 1975, with a partner. Hurst had been teaching government in the Harwich school system when he decided he wanted to change careers. His partner moved on, but Hurst remained at his store in the heart of Harwich Port. In 2013 he opened Dr. Cavity’s Candy Shack in a small shed behind Dr. Gravity’s and in 2016 moved it to 560A Main St., selling locally-made candies, specialty chocolate bars, salt water taffy and penny candy. Dr. Cavity’s is now Say It Sweetly and operating under new management.
Last September, Hurst sold the Dr. Gravity’s real estate to Dennis E. Miller of Main Street HP, LLC for $540,000. Hurst’s father William had bought the property in 1949 and ran a hardware store there prior to Hurst opening the kite shop. In 2016, Miller bought the building next door that the candy store now occupies.
After running Dr. Gravity’s for 45 years, Hurst knew exactly where everything was. But for Cummings and Foster, the inventory was unfamiliar, and they instituted a new inventory system. They contacted vendors — some are the same as at Ducks in the Window — and “protected some things, added others,” Cummings says. They also bought new fixtures, including a new sales counter, a new center aisle and “gondola” shelving. A Facebook photo shows Foster atop a ladder in the rafters about to bring the kites down for a “deep cleaning.”
Customers coming in say, “wow, it looks great. I’m not sure what changed,” Cummings says. And this was Cummings’ goal — while the store is now brighter, more organized and easier to shop, it basically looks the same. The trademark kites are again hanging from the ceiling and draw the eye upward. And the store is a blaze of color. “The customers are very, very pleased. We are really trying to create a family fun store” where “there’s something for everyone.”
The store sells sunglasses, White Mountain jigsaw puzzles, games, flags, Cape Cod sweatshirts and “gifts for all ages.” A shed in the back includes everything needed for the beach — floats, bags, chairs and more. Cummings describes the store as “fun, whimsical, lighthearted.”
And “at the end of the day, to have two businesses — we can do economies of scale” by sharing employees, and connecting with customers across both stores.
Because Dr. Gravity’s has been around for 45 years, the children and even grandchildren of its original customers are now customers. Employees, too, have included three generations.
A February 2020 review on Tripadvisor says, “Dr. Gravity’s has everything from really beautiful and serious kites to toys I grew up with as a kid to everything our kids expect to play with today.” The customer “bought all kinds of toys from secret wooden boxes to spheres and lightning bugs for your fingers. Something for everyone.”
Because of the colorful displays arranged outside the shop in the summer, Dr. Gravity’s has long been a favorite subject for local artists to paint. Traditionally, those paintings have sold well, too, according to a past president of the Guild of Harwich Artists. Over 45 years — nearly a half century – the business has attained an iconic status in the center of Harwich Port.
“We’re excited to take the business to the next level,” Cummings says. “We are going to build on it to make it this amazing destination for all ages.”
Foster is in the process of building the store’s website, and Cummings hopes it will be up and running by the summer. Meanwhile, if you wish to order something, you can call the store and it will be shipped to you.
Cummings says she has a “fantastic business to build on” and has an “amazing team.” She thanks Hurst for providing us “such a foundation.
“We’re keeping it everyone’s favorite store.”
Dr. Gravity’s Kite Shop at 560 Main St. (Route 28), Harwich Port, is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Hours will be extended closer to the summer season. For mail orders, phone 508-430-0437.