Marc Jacobs President Robert Duffy Speaks of Provincetown

Marc Jacobs President Robert Duffy is behind the recent opening of a Marc by Marc Jacobs boutique in Provincetown, Massachusetts, a town which has historically shunned chain stores, restaurant franchises, and brand name boutiques in favor of mom-and-mom t-shirt joints, salt water taffy shops, and art and antiques dealers.

DuffyThe opening of the shop has, like most things in Ptown, divided opinion on whether it will be a good thing or a bad thing for the seasonal village. Some think it may be good for business while others worry about over-commercialization ruining the town’s artistic vibe.

The normally under-the-radar Duffy, who recently donated $340,000 to Provincetown’s Art Association and Museum, comments to the Provincetown Banner: “We are a brand. I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do or the wrong thing to do. If it opens up the floodgates for stores to be open year-round, it’s a good thing. I don’t come here to have a lot of attention focused on me. I’m used to having attention focused on me in New York and Paris. But you don’t like to see your name on a wall where you come to get away. This town has been my heart and soul. I have a cemetery plot here. I’m just so proud of the heritage this town has.”

There’s no doubt Provincetown is changing, but if it’s the art-loving philanthropists that are coming its way, it’s hard to see how anyone can really complain.

For more on Provincetown, click here!

Robert Duffy, couture company exec, steps from shadows [provincetown banner]


  1. says

    I don’t really see that much of a problem for P-Town. Yes, it’s changing, but it seems to me that it’s changing from one kind of gay to another. I really think that, at least for the duration of my lifetime (which should be for at least another 60 years), P-Town is going to be a gay mecca. It may become a high end one, but I’d already say it was that. You can’t go to a sit down restaurant there and spend Applebees prices – and, seeing as how they’re dependent on the tourism season, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

    I actually checked out the real estate prices for P-Town in the Boston Globe today. I don’t think it’s particularly expensive. If you want to buy something on Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket, you’re talking at least close to a million dollars and usually more. If you wanted to buy something in P-Town, I saw several places near where all the action is from 300,000-400,000k. That’s an incredibly large amount of money for someone like me, but a lot of gay people and couples can (and do) afford them.

    So, maybe P-Town will become a little less bohemian, but probably stay just as gay as ever. In some ways, that could be a good thing. At least in Massachusetts, a lot of the very poor “brink” cities are becoming the bohemian/artistic places – like Lynn, Lowell and New Bedford.

    Like a number of people have said, this is all cyclical. P-Town no longer needs to bohemian types to get people interested in that area.. but cities like New Bedford, Lynn and Lowell do – and maybe one of them will become our next gay meccas? (At least in the case of New Bedford and Lynn, they’re both near beautiful beaches and have underutilized waterfront downtowns… Lowell isn’t near the water, but has some cool aspects too. All three have amazing historical significances (Lynn = the Shoe City, New Bedford = Moby Dick/Whaling City, Lowell = the first real mill city).

  2. Mike G says

    Interesting note Ryan. I have a question for you (and anyone else who’s been going to P-Town for a while): do you feel the town is becoming more “straight”?

    There were articles last year in both the Boston Globe and NY Times on how more and more straight couples/families were going to P-Town and how some business owners and townfolks were worried that P-Town was going to become “just another resort town” instead of the artsy, gay place it currently is. My partner and I have been going to P-Town for only the past 4 years so we really can’t comment on if we noticed a change.

    A perfect example is an earlier article about the opening of the Marc Jacob had Robert Duffy almost saying defensively how P-Town was not a “gay town” and that straight people were also there and would be shopping at the store.

  3. DT says

    It’s a sad day. I only hope it fails
    miserably so as to scare off others who
    will surely follow.

    The charm of ptown isn’t knowing you can
    go mall shopping at the beach (or bleaker
    street shopping for that matter). It’s to
    get away from everyday life and enjoy the
    vibe of a coastal town with serious history.

    If anyone questions Mr. Duffy’s motives, all you need to do is look at the massive house
    he has rebuilt along Commercial Street on the West End.

  4. PS says

    It won’t fail miserably. I believe it will be wildly successful. They are selling shirts, flip flops, tote bags sun glasses at affordable prices along with their higher end pieces. Robert Duffy and Marc Jacobs are extremly generous with their time and money to the arts, medical and social causes. I wish them and the lucky employees that get to work there all summer the best of luck!

  5. MJ says

    Ryan: You’re so right. So much of this type of thing, wherever it happens, really is cyclical. Still, though, naturally, I can’t help but always feel bad when once interesting places become too-expensive high-end bores. Manhattan is a dull place, now, comparatively. South Beach, Miami, was only really electric and fun when it first started getting popular. And I’ve spoken to older guys who miss the old Provincetown.

  6. says

    Ptown used to have active culture, now it’s just homogenized…
    so a limp cliché like the marc jacobs brand will sit comfy accelerating Ptown’s current disney effect, not to mention the rents. it ain’t called Commercial Street for nothing… and afterall, marc jacobs certainly ruined Bleecker rather quickly.

  7. John says

    I think the best piece of work come come out of Marc Jacob is Marc Jacob himself. What a hotty he turned out to be once he hit the gym and cut the hair. Guess the male prostitute he dated had seen what very few had no idea existed.

    As for the coming Marc store, it will be a destination venue for all the boys who want to look and feel like Britney, Mariah and Gwen. That whole vibe is soooooooooo overdone in the gay community.

    I say bring back the gay men who look like men, act like men and love to suck dick like a man!

  8. oddjob says

    Lynn’s best potential waterfront is presently unusable because it’s under power lines. The city is trying to get the power lines moved. If that happens the city’s southern waterfront would easily develop into high end uses I think. The only downside to Lynn’s beaches is the perennial algal bloom. The stench from the dead rotting algae is quite nasty.

  9. SD says

    I live in Provincetown year round. I’m gay, but could really care less if it stays a gay mecca. I’m more interested in it staying an active art colony. I think that the arts brings in a liberal, gay friendly culture. What has happened in Provincetown is that a conservative, gay, wealthy crowd is moving in. And with it the bohemians, artists, the devil-may-care vibe in town is leaving. If things continue on the track they the town is on all that will be left is a stuffy, boring gay Nantucket. I say embrace the diversity. Being afraid of straight people is silly. I’m afraid of narrow-minded people and believe me there are a ton of gay people with narrow minds. Diversity is the way to go. Provincetown is not a gay town, it is a town where being gay doesn’t matter.