by Susan Vaughn
People have told Siobhan Clune (L) that she was brave to give up a full-time job in Boston to open a consignment shop in Chatham, but Clune didn’t see it that way.
“I’m not so brave. I didn’t think about it,” she said, although she admitted in a recent interview that she had some qualms at first about the business venture. However, Kyra Travis (R), a friend and colleague when Clune was a fundraiser for independent schools for 10 years, convinced her it would be a good move. Clune also had experience working in a consignment shop in Belmont.
Travis bought the building in Post Office Square that had been occupied previously by various other businesses. The business partners renovated it and opened last July under the name Changing Tides. They already see the business succeeding and split the hours working at the shop, so one of them is always there.
Clune is happy she made the change, but said, “I was not used to working part time,” and she wanted to use more of her skills. At the suggestion of WE CAN board member Pam Kukla, a customer of the shop, she applied for the part-time position of data and technology coordinator at the nonprofit agency in Harwich Port and was hired.
Clune, 34 and single, said she chose Chatham because it was in the part of the Cape she likes and was familiar with since vacationing here as a child. She worked as a “toll booth girl” at Nauset Beach in summers. It didn’t hurt that her boyfriend is here. She also likes the small community. “It’s great. People are welcoming and want to help,” she said in an interview at WE CAN’s recently expanded and renovated offices on Route 28. In addition to her experience working in a consignment store, Clune brings a range of skills to the new position.Anative of Springfield, she earned a bachelor’s degree in communications at UMass Amherst and a master’s in policy planning and administration at Wheelock College.
WE CAN is an acronym for Women Empowerment through Cape Area Networking. Launched in 2001, the agency provides a wide range of services to women undergoingchallenging life transitions from the “Bridges to Provincetown,” including Falmouth.
WE CAN states on its website that despite all its growth and change, it remains committed to its original mission of “empowering Cape women through mentoring, information, education, networking and support.” The agency has continued to expand and after moving into its permanent home in 2013, its numbers increased substantially, requiring expansion. In the first nine months of 2014, its annual report shows 5,222 contacts with clients and 1,838 individual participants.
Clune described some of WE CAN’s services: financial workshops, legal advice, a PathMakers 10-month mentoring program, help with probate or custody issues and career guidance, primarily for low- and middle-income women who don’t have other options.
Her job includes keeping track of all participation and providing reports to the board. She also helps write grants and provides technical support. She edited the content for the agency’s new website.
“Reporting on participants is important,” she said. “We want to make sure we are serving the needs.” Clune has even created some overlap in her two jobs. The consignment store has partnered with WE CAN by allowing customers to designate some of the proceeds for the agency.
Changing Tides has become quite busy in its short tenure in Chatham and customers and consigners have found the location next to the post office convenient, Clune said. The shop specializes in upscale, higher end consignment items.
“It feels like a boutique,” Clune said. She and Travis aim to make the consigning process simple by not requiring appointments or a minimum number of items and choosing items to sell on the spot. The consigner gets 40 percent cash or store credit.
Many customers are local, but Clune said the store is receiving items every day from across the country, from people who became familiar with the store while vacationing in Chatham. Keeping up with the times, the store also is having success selling online through Instagram.
The outgoing, upbeat Clune summarized her work andlife on the Cape as “a new adventure.”