The Bass River Mercantile

Bass River Mercantile

A Long-Standing Presence in South Yarmouth

If you’ve ever spent much time in Yarmouth, Massachusetts, you’ve probably seen the building. Or maybe you’ve missed sight of it, but have driven by countless times, leaving it peripherally in the rearview as you gauge the queue of cars on the Bass River Bridge and count your lucky stars, (or shake your fists to the sky, respectively), at the visual oracle of impending traffic and time. If you are generationally local to Yarmouth, chances are your grandparents, great-grandparents and even great-great-grandparents had memories of the beautiful old building, as it has resided in that spot for 230 years. Making its way through time as a rope factory in the 1790s, a general store, a post office, a gathering place for whispers of Victorian-era ghost stories, and eventually an established spot for local goods, crafts, and treats. By the existence of steam-powered cars, the timeworn building had already been settling its bones for nearly a century, presiding over the metamorphosis from the dusty, horse-cloven streets of Olde Cape Cod, to the pavements bustling with the honking horns and fleeting pop songs of vehicles passing by.  

Although it overlooks one of Yarmouth’s most notoriously busy traffic stops, intersecting Rt 28 and the North and Old Main Streets at the bridge, once inside the goldenrod building with its front porch trimmed in scalloped forest green, the door closes behind you and the roadside din of Cape Cod summer fades into a comfortable hum. Your eyes adjust from the brightness of the mid-afternoon sun, and you take in the warmly worn wooden floors, the nickelodeon, shelves of old-timey candies, clove gum, and glass bottles of moxie, walls adorned with hand-carved silhouettes of mermaids, ships, and captain’s wheels, and the heavy beams still proudly holding it all together strong and steady for hundreds of years. The longer you look the more you realize that you are standing in the belly of a historical monument to Yarmouth. If you linger in the room off to the right, (and it’s hard not to), where it’s adorned year-round for Christmas with decorations and ornaments, you can imagine its layers of time ago when it was still a post office and general store, and families would walk in after church for penny candies and brown paper parcels tied up with twine.  

Equally as intriguing as Bass River Mercantile’s historical influence in Yarmouth, is the seemingly endless array of things to look at. Most of what they carry is locally sourced, discovered at farmers’ markets and fairs, or brought in by Cape Cod entrepreneurs, but each item has a unique draw with its story, be it the connections to the Cape or its altruistic causes, from saving the turtles with The Turtleman Foundation to cleaning up coastlines with 4 Ocean. Every shopper will find something to take home here, whether it’s your first visit to the Cape or you’re a long-time year-rounder who likes to support local artists and businesses. Among the ample shelves of specially branded soaps, ornaments, and sodas, are lines of vintage model cars. Organic, lotions and lip balms, and scented candles are presented with a nautical backsplash of fishnets and glass floats.  

Here you will discover local treasures you won’t easily find in the typical beachside tourist shack. Shoppers who enjoy the thrill of an exceptional find will be elated with the racks of Cape Cod-inspired jewelry of silver and sea glass and pearls. The Original Cape Cod Chokers is a small family-owned, woman-founded business based in Barnstable, best known for its simple beach-inspired leather and pearl pieces.  In the front of the shop is a small stack of copies of Dead Tide, the debut novel of young Orleans author Jane Marks. A handwritten sign welcoming local soap maker, Michele Montalvo is displayed over generously cut artisan soaps in scents of Cranberry Pomegranate and Cherry Almond, gift-wrapped in tulle bags and silky ribbon. The Lighthouse Keepers jams, jellies, and mustards are in the back room with jars of honey and jerky and coastal-themed woven trivets. Lovely individually crafted pottery, mugs, and bowls made by a Chatham artist are laid out on tables and shelves amongst an assortment of hydrangea.

The Bass River Mercantile manages to combine the unassuming charm of an old-fashioned general store, with what patrons are looking for in 2023: Quality craftsmanship with community roots that won’t break the bank. Stop in from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm any day of the week. From the ubiquitous to the unique, you’ll find just what you didn’t know you were missing from your Cape Cod Shopping experience.        

The Bass River Mercantile:

2 North Main Street

South Yarmouth, MA 02664

Phone: 508-760-1888

(Britt Skinner is a freelance writer.)

Photo Credit: Britt Skinner

This blog is funded through the Town of Yarmouth’s Tourism Revenue Preservation Fund.

Yarmouth in the Revolution

In order to recognize the 250th anniversary of the events leading up to, and of the American Revolution, the Revolutionary War Commemorative Committee is researching events and filling gaps in our knowledge with an emphasis on primary sources, and the correcting of myths, embellishments, and unsupported generalities passed down over the years. We hope readers will be inspired to share with us family lore, diaries, letters, stories, or documents about the Revolution in “old” Yarmouth.

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Things to Do with Kids in Yarmouth

You planned a vacation in Yarmouth with the whole family, but other than spending time on the beach, you’re not sure how you’re going to pass the time. Your kids want to stay plugged into their devices. You want to focus on family time and creating memories to last a lifetime.

Check out our list of fun things to do when you are visiting Yarmouth and Cape Cod with children of any age.

Family of mother and kids enjoying a ride on a public ferry at sunset

Explore the area by land or sea

With water everywhere, you can enjoy a nautical adventure with a sightseeing cruise or a ferry to one of the nearby islands. Or take a drive through quaint towns and villages–an opportunity to encourage younger ones to take a nap while you soak in some of the picturesque views.

Go whale watching

Seeing whales in their natural habitat is awe-inspiring. While there’s no guarantee of how many whales you will see on your excursion, the boat ride alone will take a significant part of your day. Whale-watching trips are generally close to four hours, and you’ll want to leave yourself enough time beforehand for boarding.

Kid fishing

Reel them in with some fishing

The variety of water bodies in Yarmouth provides a wide range of fishing options. Search out a lake, pond, or riverside fishing hole, or take to the high seas for a day of trawling on the open waters. Even if you prefer catch-and-release, a day spent fishing teaches patience and persistence. Plus, it can give you time to slow down, relax, and talk with your kids about anything, everything, or nothing at all.

Get out

Burn off some energy with outdoor adventures. Take in the scenery by biking, kayaking, sailing, or taking a trek on the dunes. Let the kids take the wheel on a go-kart track or cool off at the Wicked Waves Water Park.

Play a round or two

On Cape Cod, you’ll find expertly designed golf courses of all sizes. Not only can you take the whole family mini-golfing on a putt-putt course, but you can play 9 or 18 holes with your older children on links with incredible scenic views.

Step back in time

Explore Yarmouth’s rich history and culture at a variety of museums and historical centers. Visit the homes of notable literary figures, check out sites that recreate the region’s legends and lore, and give your children an education without their even realizing it.

Indulge in a sweet treat

Two ice cream cones

Regardless of how else you spend the day taking a break for ice cream makes everything a little sweeter. Treat the kids to an afternoon snack or delicious dessert. Or, for teens who sleep in all morning, surprise them with ice cream for a late breakfast. It’s sure to create memories they’ll hang on to for years to come.

Cheer for the home team

No tickets are needed to turn out to root for your favorite Y-D Red Sox players. Bring the whole family to watch some of the best collegiate players take to the diamond. You never know when you’ll see a future phenom, like former Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale.

Spend time on the beach

Yes, this one is obvious, but it’s an essential part of a stay in Yarmouth. There are many beautiful beaches with options on both Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Sound sides. Not only can you go swimming, but you can walk or play along the water’s edge or just listen to the water going in and out. Teaching your children how to unplug and just live in the moment is an essential lesson for the years ahead.

Kids grow from toddlers to teens all too fast. But with our suggestion of ways to entertain your family on the Cape, you’re sure to find plenty of reasons to keep coming back year after year.

This blog is funded through the Town of Yarmouth’s Tourism Revenue Preservation Fund.

When bush comes to shrub, try growing Cape-friendly blueberries

Where can you find a winter-hardy shrub that thrives in Yarmouth’s sandy soil; turns brilliant red in autumn; provides food for native songbirds; and fills the freezer with antioxidant-rich power food?

When bush comes to shrub, it’s hard to beat the humble blueberry.

Now that the spring gardening season has arrived on Cape Cod, it’s time to plant trees and shrubs, as well as vegetables and flowering plants. It’s also the best time to plant high-bush blueberries, allowing a full growing season during their first year in the landscape.

A lot of people are really looking to grow their own foods today, said Rose Grevelis, senior nursery associate at Agway of Cape Cod in South Dennis. Blueberries fit perfectly into that plan.

As they mature, high-bush blueberries provide an attractive border or screen for objects in the home landscape. And when bushes mature, they reward growers with a harvest of sweet-tart berries. Unlike evergreens, blueberries do lose their leaves in winter, but before that happens, the foliage turns a brilliant crimson.

Agway sells an assortment of blueberry bushes, Grevelis said, starting with one-gallon potted plants that will take about three years to begin producing a respectable harvest. To ensure their health and future productivity, she advises the following steps:

  • Choose several blueberry varieties for good pollination and berry production. If you have the space, grow two or more varieties of early, mid-season and late-fruiting blueberries. That way you can stretch your berry-picking time from late June through mid-September. Earliblue, Ivanhoe, Patriot and Blue Ray are early varieties; Berkeley, Bluecrop, Pioneer and Atlantic are mid-season varieties; and Jersey, Coville, Lateblue and Elliot are late-fruiting choices. Jersey is an especially popular choice for Cape Cod growers, Grevelis said.
  • Test your soil’s pH before planting. Blueberries love acidic soil – even more acidic than the natural conditions on Cape Cod. Chances are you’ll need to add some sulfur to raise the soil’s acidity (lowering the pH to between 4.1 and 5.0 on a scale where 7.0 is neutral). Don’t know how to test your soil’s pH? No worries. Agway of Cape Cod offers free pH testing.
  • Blueberries will tolerate some shade, but they grow strongest and provide the most fruit when grown in full sun (at least six hours per day).
  • Blueberries love water, but don’t perform well when their roots are soggy, so plant them in well-draining soil. That’s an easy task when you live on Cape Cod, where the sandy soil drains almost instantly. To retain some water and nutrients, dig your hole the same depth as the pot, but double or triple its width. Then add plenty of organic compost and mix it into the surrounding soil.
  • Space blueberry bushes at least 4-5 feet apart. This will allow stronger root growth as well as good air circulation, which helps prevent diseases. It will also leave you ample space to pick the berries once bushes mature.
  • One pest that sometimes attacks Cape Cod blueberry bushes is the winter moth, which varies in population from year to year. If you see a lot of beige, night-flying moths on warm nights between Thanksgiving and Christmas, chances are the tiny larvae will eat the blossoms and leaf-buds of your blueberry bushes come spring. Solution: Spray the bare branches, twigs and bark with a dormant oil in late winter. It will smother the eggs.
  • To protect your blueberry crop from catbirds, robins and other feathered friends, cover the bushes with netting. A tall cage made from lightweight deer fencing with steel electrical conduit for posts is a low-cost option. Drape plastic bird netting over the top during fruiting season and remove the top in winter.

Agway of Cape Cod will be one of the garden and landscaping companies participating in the spring Home, Garden and Lifestyle Show, set for May 16-17 at the Barnstable High School field house. Find more information on the show at the Hyannis Rotary Club website.

(Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce blogger Andy Tomolonis is a multimedia producer, award-winning journalist and author of Organic Hobby Farming: A Practical Guide to Earth-Friendly Farming in Any Space.)

Top 5 Best of Yarmouth: Walks & Hikes

Bud Carter Conservation area

Gray's Beach

Gray’s Beach

One of the best ways to appreciate the nature and history of Yarmouth is enjoying a walk down one of our historical lanes or hiking on one of our nature trails. On foot, you have the time to enjoy the natural beauty of the seashore, marshes, botanical trails, or the 18th and 19th century architecture of the sea captain’s homes and the churches that are linked to the founding of the town.

No matter the time of year, we all want to get outside and enjoy Cape Cod’s salty air with a nice walk. Lucky for us, Yarmouth has many beautiful hiking paths on Conservation Land, sidewalks for strolling, and a great stretch of shoreline for those seaside walks. Here are our favorites!

By Cindi Griffin, Cape Interactive Media

Botanical Trails

Botanical Trails

#1 The Botanical Trails at the Historical Society of Yarmouth

A favorite walk among residents of Yarmouth is hidden just behind the Yarmouth Port Post Office off of Route 6A. The Botanical Trails, or Nature Trails, of the Historical Society of Yarmouth, boast a nature lovers dream of plants and tree specimens that add a bit of variety to a traditional walk through the woods. If you’re a first timer, this is one walk worth taking with the Trail Map and Nature Trail Guide so you can see where you are, and know when to stop and look for notable flora, fauna and geological points of interest. You can pick up the guide at the gatehouse at the beginning of the trail and, no matter the time of year, it’s a good idea to apply your bug repellent. The trail winds around Miller Pond, one of Cape Cod’s many kettle ponds formed by glacial ice deposits, and has some variety of terrain that is great for sure-footed adults and older children.

At the end of the trail you’ll see the lovely little Kelley Chapel, a non-denominational chapel built in 1873 and donated to the Historical Society in 1960 when it was moved from the Georgetown area along Bass River in South Yarmouth. Kelley Chapel is available mid-spring through December for special events and weddings.

Gray's Beach

Gray’s Beach

#2 The Callery-Darling Conservation Trails at Gray’s Beach

The Callery-Darling trails that wind through the marshes of Yarmouth Port, have some of the best payoffs of any hike in the Mid-Cape area. Follow the trail that takes you through the Center Street Marshes (entrance located on west side of the road), and you’ll find a whimsical old fashioned swing, and a spectacular view of Barnstable’s Sandy Neck. On the east side, the trails wind through the Chase Garden Creek Marsh, with views overlooking the Grey’s Beach and Chapin Memorial Beach in Dennis. MAP/GUIDE.

Captains' Mile

Captains’ Mile

#3 The Captains’ Mile

Getting to know the historical significance of the Old King’s Highway and it’s early residents, with a nice stroll along the “Captains’ Mile” on Route 6A in Yarmouth Port. MAP/GUIDEThe black and gold relief carved plaques featuring a schooner ship signify each captain’s home on the Captains’ Mile, which are now mainly private residents. To see inside, visit the Captain Bangs Hallet House at 11 Strawberry Lane on the north side of the village green. If you’re into supernatural history, you can also download the Ghosts, Myths and Legends guide to accompany you on your tour. GUIDE.

#4 Old South Yarmouth and Bass River Village Walking Tour

On the south side of Yarmouth is another historical walking tour through Bass River Village. On top of the Greek Revival architecture we see so prominently on the north side, there are homes with charming Victorian and Italianate flourishes and a history in keeping with Yarmouth’s seafaring founders. MAP/GUIDE.

Crab Creek

Crab Creek

 

Bass River Beach

Bass River Beach

#5 South Shore Drive

One of the longest stretches of shoreline (about 1.3 miles) in Yarmouth runs from Bass River Beach (aka “Smuggler’s Beach”) along South Shore Drive to Thacher Park Beach. Lined with oceanfront hotels, beach cottages, private residences, public and resident-only beaches, South Shore Drive also has a sidewalk that’s perfect for walkers and joggers who want to take in the fresh ocean breeze. Those interested in a longer walk, can park at the Bass River Beach lot (see in season fees) and walk the beach, with several options to double-back and return up to the paved sidewalk via South Middle Beach, Parker’s River Beach, Seaview Beach or Thacher Park Beach, which is quite convenient since the beautiful soft sand of the Nantucket Sound beaches are a little more difficult for running and walking than you might expect. If you want an even longer walk, keep following the sidewalk past Bass River Beach down South Street, which also connects to Old Main Street. Along the way, you’ll enjoy seeing many beautiful homes, gardens and points of interest. If you work up an appetite, there’s a new gelateria, Caffe Gelato Bertini, next to the Great Island Bakery on South Street, and the Skipper Restaurant and Chowder House, which also serves ice cream, on South Shore Drive.

Things to do in Yarmouth, Cape Cod

There are plenty of “THINGS TO DO” to keep you busy here in Yarmouth and on Cape Cod! Click on the images below for a complete listing.

FREE ACTIVITIES in Yarmouth

From hiking trails to visiting cranberry bogs, Yarmouth has a variety of free activities to do. Please browse our list of free activities in Yarmouth below.Free Activities in Yarmouth, MA

MUST-SEE PLACES in Yarmouth Cape Cod

Yarmouth boasts many historic and scenic attractions. Checkout our list of must-see places below:

Must See Places List in Yarmouth, MA

FAMILY ACTIVITIES in Yarmouth Cape Cod

Are you looking for things to do in Cape Cod with your family? Yarmouth offers many fun activities for you and your loved ones to enjoy! Please browse our list below for details or also see our list of things to do with kids on Cape Cod

Family Activities List in Yarmouth, MA

RAINY DAY ACTIVITIES ON CAPE COD

When Mother Nature disrupts your beach plans, having a rainy-day activity in your back pocket is a must! Check out our list below for fun things to do in Yarmouth when it rains.

Rainy Day Activities List in Yarmouth, MA

Yarmouth Conservation Areas and Walking Trails

KEVENEY LN CUMMAQUID cr William DeSousa-Mauk

Photo by William DeSousa

Explore the wild side of Cape Cod by walking or hiking through one of our many conservation areas. Yarmouth is home to some renowned spots including Callery-Darling Conservation Area and Crab Creek Conservation Area. Browse our list of local favorites and enjoy a nice walk by the ocean or some good crabbing opportunities!

Download the Town of Yarmouth’s conservation areas and trail maps to start exploring its 1800 acres of available land.

Bud Carter Conservation Area
The trail with the highest point in Yarmouth is situated on what is known as the Sandwich Moraine, a significant glacial feature left over from the last ice age of 20,000 years ago. The area boasts of two scenic vistas. Many side trails and loops occur within this 300-acre land tract.

Callery-Darling Conservation Area
This trail is located north of Route 6A and stretches from Homers Dock Road to the salt marshes west of Center Street. The area displays great ecological diversity in various stages of vegetative succession. Soil is rich and deep with organics, indicating an aggressive farming history. Abandoned cranberry bogs and ancient saltwater bogs are present with original dikes intact. The Bass Hole Boardwalk is one of the more popular attractions within the area.

GRAY'SBCH3 cr William DeSousa-Mauk

Photo by William DeSousa

Crab Creek Conservation Area
The trail winds its way along the shore of Crab Creek. This area has long been a favorite for crabbing enthusiasts with its abundance of blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus. Blue crabs measuring five (5) inches from point to point may be taken without a permit. However, a state permit is required when using traps or pots.

Dennis Pond Conservation Area
The main trail is approximately 3,285 feet long and winds its way through a variety of woodland communities. There is also a side trail that follows closely along the shoreline and rejoins the main trail later.

BASS HOLE GRAY'S BEACH cr William DeSousa-Mauk (14)

Photo by William DeSousa

Horse Pond Conservation Area
These trails are located within a 400-acre tract of town-owned land. The main trail occurs along the northern perimeters of Horse Pond with spurs, loops, and connectors to other trail systems.

Meadowbrook Conservation Area
This area consists of brackish marsh, salt marsh, and relic Atlantic white cedar swamp fronting on Swan Pond. A 310-foot boardwalk leads from the parking area to the north shore of Swan Pond.

BASS HOLE GRAY'S BEACH cr William DeSousa-Mauk (11)

Photo by William DeSousa

Raymond J. Syrjala Conservation Area
This area is 15 acres in size with a trail approximately 3,500 feet in length and forms a loop that passes through a rather wet environment. A man-made reservoir to the east of the trail was created to store water for the now-abandoned cranberry bogs.

Sandy Pond Conservation Area
Sandy Pond is approximately 12 acres in area and presents itself as a classic “kettle” pond with steep slopes and a depth of 35 feet. A nature trail leads around the entire pond and connects to other trails to the north, west, and east.

BASS HOLE YARMOUTH PORT cr William DeSousa-Mauk (2)

Photo by William DeSousa

Thacher Show Conservation Area
This area consists mostly of salt march with a short trail through a wooded thicket. The marsh end of the trail boasts commanding scenic views of the salt marshes and island thickets. The Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown can be seen to the north on an exceptionally clear day.