FENWICK ISLAND — Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Hit the Deck co-owner Kebbie Crout said last week that she’s looking forward to several more years supplying outdoor furnishings in the Fenwick area.
“Twenty years is a big mark for us,” she said.
Though not the original owners, Crout and partner Dustin Shepard came on-board in 2003 and eventually bought out their other partners to become sole proprietors. The store itself has had the same name and location since 1992 however, and Crout explained that in that time Hit the Deck has attracted a sizable and loyal customer base.
“We have people come in just to see what’s new,” she said.
Specializing in outdoor and patio furniture, Crout revealed that all fixtures in the store are “high-quality, made in the USA.” Additionally, a few local artists have relevant work available on site, including items like custom-carved coffee tables.
Customization in general, said Crout, is important at Hit the Deck.
“The other big thing we do is custom ordering,” she said.
While the majority of furnishings at the store are meant to “appeal to everyone,” if someone can’t find what they’re looking for on site, Hit the Deck will help find it for them, according to Crout.
“We’ll take care of you, we really will,” she said.
While tastes vary from customer to customer, flash and attention-grabbing colors seem to be popular choices in furniture design, a fact that Crout attributed at least partially to the laid back and casual resort atmosphere of Fenwick and nearby Ocean City.
“We see a lot of bright colors, which is awesome,” she said.
Though she wasn’t responsible for selecting the location back in 1992, Crout was quick to admit enjoying Fenwick and the customer base it provided. Other resort businesses have struggled with the extreme polarity inherent in operating a business at the beach. Such a set-up means hectic amounts of work during the late spring, summer and early fall which drops off to little or nothing over the winter months.
But Crout asserted that kind of operation suits Hit the Deck just fine.
“We kind of ebb and flow with the people … I love the offseason,” she said.
Closed for parts of November through the beginning of February, Hit the Deck makes up for lost time by running seven days a week April through September.
“It always amazes me the volume we do,” said Crout.
While Crout added that she “loves where we are right now” and doesn’t plan on leaving the Fenwick location any time soon, she did acknowledge a desire to one day get bigger.
“Ideally, we’d like to expand,” Crout said.
The commercial outdoor furnishings field is one area Crout would like to concentrate on down the road.
“The commercial area is pretty big for me,” she said.
Everything from hotels to golf courses have called on Hit the Deck to order and supply outdoor furniture, according to Crout, and working with both retail and commercial customers will be a long-term goal.
With the summer season beginning to wind down, Crout underlined there is still plenty of time to put together a set of outdoor furniture, either to enjoy the early autumn weather or in anticipation of the next vacation cycle starting in the spring. Any purchases made at Hit the Deck, she added, are guaranteed to hold-up for several summers to come.
“Buying something here will last you a long time,” she promised, adding that “we also stand behind the warranties.”