CHATHAM – Carol Sherman has created a monster, so to speak.
“I did,” she admits. “But it’s a good monster.”
Sherman has owned Monomoy Salvage on Main Street for the past 26 years. The small shop specializes in unique finds and collectibles, most in keeping with the Cape’s nautical theme, and all at reasonable prices.
“I pride myself on my price points,” she said. “I’m not high end, but I’m not Christmas Tree Shop. I’ve always worked on a certain markup so if I walked into a store, I would feel that I would buy it.”
In her decades in business, Sherman has learned to be choosy. Specifically, she said, she aims to populate her shop with fun items that bring joy to whoever comes through the door. That proved especially important when businesses first reopened after being forced to close temporarily at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s when the sharks came in.
Sherman collaborated with another company that supplied the shop with 25 reproduced life-sized fiberglass shark heads. The heads, which she started selling in the summer of 2020, are designed with the shark’s mouth wide open and teeth prominent.
All 25 heads were sold that summer, and the shop again sold out of their supply of heads in 2021 and 2022. Sherman said.
“Everybody wants something fun during this COVID issue,” she said of the popularity of the shark heads. “The families came back into the house, they came back into the yards with the fire pits and the pools. It was the right time. You’re getting people with shark sightings, we’ve got the big shark conservatory and just interest in the sharks, which is great.”
The heads, which are imported from the Philippines, have been a hit with locals, summer residents and people visiting from as far away as Mexico and California.
For Sherman, the fun comes in seeing the creative ways in which her customers choose to use them. Some people put them in their “man caves,” while others have situated a shark over the nozzle of their outdoor showers. Another customer used their sharkhead as a table centerpiece for their catering business.
“People have sent me videos of what they’ve done,” Sherman said. “It’s a scream.”
And thanks to some clever social media use, word has spread about the shark heads and generated some buzz for the shop. Last summer, Sherman began taking photographs of her shark head customers, who gamely played along by putting their heads inside the mouths of the famed sea predators.
Monomoy Salvage closes for the winter on Jan. 1, but Sherman is already looking ahead to reopening in April. In the meantime, she’s partnering with her shark head vendor on other product ideas. The shop also sells three-foot half sharks, which have also been popular with customers. Most recently, Sherman received a shipment of used, redecorated diving helmets. She has one herself, which she uses as a hallway nightlight in her home.
In addition to running her business, Sherman is also a select board member in Mashpee. But even with her busy schedule, she said she always finds the time to hunt around for items and creative inspiration.
“It’s so much fun,” she said of finding items and coming up with new ideas for her shop. “It’s fun trying to find that unique piece that’s going to hit.”
As for the shark heads, the last one sold earlier this month, but Sherman promises there will be more in stock next season.
“I don’t make a lot of money on a shark,” she said. “I make a little, but I’ve sold a lot. I feel like I’ve made people happy, and that’s enough.”