A lack of year-round, reasonably priced housing is one thing that prevents young people from living on the Cape. Part three of our original 3-part series "By The Numbers: Worries About Cape Cod's Workforce" examines the belief that a change in attitude towards development is needed. Meanwhile, some business-minded Cape Codders are making it work, despite the challenges.
(Below is a partial transcript. Hear the whole story by clicking the LISTEN button above.)
41-year-old Justin Labdon knows how to do the Cape and Islands thing. Labdon is the owner of the Cape Cod Beach Chair Company, and inside an antique barn in Harwich, he and his staff promote the Cape Cod lifestyle designing, assembling and embroidering beach chairs and shark t-shirts, renting cruiser bicycles and paddle boards. Labdon even has a Black Lab that greets customers.
"You have a lot of folks who come to the Cape specifically to go to the beach," he said, "so it seemed like a beach-oriented brand on the Cape would do well. And you've got a lot of people that buy products souvenir type products that say Cape Cod on them. So I thought by combining the two items, that the combination of the two would be really attractive to local consumers."
As an embroidery machine sews designs on the back of a chair, Labdon talks about how he was raised in Brewster, and like many young Cape Codders, he left the region to go to college before eventually taking a job in Boston selling video technology. A visit home to the Cape and its beaches several years ago reminded him how much he loves the area, so Labdon thought hard about how he could return. He moved back to the Cape in 2003 to pursue the beach chair business.
"We do ship these all over the country and across the seas to Australia, Japan, England and all sorts of foreign countries every so often," he said. "So we do business year-round, but certainly there are a couple months that are much busier than others. So that's helped us on the cape."
Labdon does what Cape Cod business development people say entrepreneurs here should do in order to survive in this mostly-seasonal economy he uses the Cape brand to market his business. He exports products and services off this sandy peninsula and to the larger world.