In the Washington, D.C., suburbs, Ellen’s Futon Wholesalers is well known as a furniture retailer. Now, they’ve taken their popular product to Delaware for the first time, with their recent opening in Fenwick Island.
“People kept telling me that I needed to bring a store to the beach,” noted owner Shaun Diamond, who heads the new location on Coastal Highway, just north of Seaside Country Store in Fenwick Island. “We have a lot of customers who buy from us bring their product down to their beach houses in Bethany and Ocean City.”
Ellen’s Futons, which took its name from the original owner’s daughter, specializes in futons, sofa convertibles, beds, bunks and sofa sleepers.
“There is such a market for futons – especially with the vacation homes and rental activity down here,” said Diamond. “You want to be able to provide sleeping areas for people when they come to visit, and it’s nice to have a couch that becomes a bed. The tax-free shopping in Delaware is also a nice part of it.”
The furniture at Ellen’s Futons come in a wide array of styles, from contemporary and modern, from metal to wooden frame.
“There’s definitely something for everyone here,” said Diamond. “We have affordable futons that start around $300 and $400, and there are high-end ones that can get up to $900.”
The store saw some foot traffic in its opening weekend at the end of May, but now that word is spreading, business has been up.
“In the last week,” said Diamond, “we’ve been selling, selling, selling. When we open a new store, it takes a little time for people to hear about you, but before long, they’re coming in and they see what you’re about. Customers who stop in can usually find what they’re looking for.”
While the selection itself is one-of-a-kind, Diamond attributed most of the business’ success to the fact that his product appeals to particular buyers.
“I enjoy working retail, especially with futons,” he said. “When people come in to buy something, they’re looking for something specific. It’s not like shopping around different stores for a couch. The futons here are serving a purpose, and you know you’re selling quality.”
The term “futon” retains its Japanese roots, literally meaning “bedroll” or “place to rest.” Over the years, they have become more functional, fashionable and feasible, and as Western-style took over, they have developed into a common sight in many homes. The frame, futon mattress and cover all combine to make the available futons completely original.
“It’s a mix-and-match type of thing,” explained Diamond. “People enjoy picking out what they like and what works for them. You’re not locked into one thing or the other. Futons have come a long way. You can even get mattresses now that are Tempurpedic. They are not quite what people remember futons being when they first came out. These aren’t those department store futons that you use for a few months and just get rid of. People even stop in to get futon mattresses for their beds.”
Assembly is simple and convenient, as well.
“You can take it right home,” noted Diamond, “and easily put it together. You’re not going to wait for weeks, like you will at other stores.”
Now located in a seasonal beach area, Ellen’s Futons is becoming a part of the community, and adapting to the economy.
“We’re open seven days a week,” Diamond assured, “and we’ll continue to be open outside of the summer season. We’ll have to see how late in the year we’ll stay open, but most people like to furnish their homes and rentals in the fall or spring, outside of peak season. We’re not a massive company, but we’re small and nimble enough that we can work with adapting to the economy. We’re here for the locals, as well.”
Ellen’s Futons is located at 1300 Coastal Highway in Fenwick Island, just north of the Seaside Country Store. For more information, call (302) 537-8537.