FENWICK ISLAND — After three decades in Selbyville, C&E Furniture has relocated closer to the shore with a move to Fenwick Island this summer.
“We really like Fenwick,” said owner Katie Winnington.
A Selbyville staple for about 30 years, C&E has always been in Winnington’s family. Last January, she purchased the company from her mother and took over managing the store herself with a new business plan.
And it was because of that change in strategy that Winnington felt it was time for a new location.
“We’re geared towards the coastal area,” she said of the new C&E, located in Fenwick’s Ocean Bay Plaza on Route 1.
Instead of the large showroom and warehouse space that defined the former Selbyville location, Winnington explained that the new C&E was built smaller to allow more focus and to help keep inventory perpetually cycling.
“We do a lot of custom design work … we really go out of our way when at the markets,” she said.
Winnington admitted that the relocation was tough after such a long history with Selbyville, especially since she worked at C&E for eight years with her family before buying it.
“It’s scary when you do a move like this,” she said.
But Winnington reiterated the desire to update the business and move away from the giant storeroom furniture operation into smaller and more custom markets.
“Times have changed; our business model has changed,” she said, adding that it helped to have her family and other C&E employees make the move to Fenwick with her.
Under the current set-up, Winnington noted that a lot of customers are coming in seeking décor for their entire home. The beach atmosphere in Fenwick also means a lot of vacationers looking for furnishings, she added, as well as a strong niche market for things like re-claimed wood furniture.
While Fenwick offers more foot-traffic than Selbyville, Winnington admitted that seasonality would likely have a more noticeable impact in a resort town like Fenwick, though she anticipates more than enough local interest to keep C&E busy in the winter months.
That interest should also be boosted by visits from C&E regulars that frequented the former location, she continued. Though Winnington revealed that “a lot of customers thought we’d just closed” when she relocated, many regulars seem to have learned about the Fenwick spot and have made a point of returning to check out C&E’s new look.
Open since May, Winnington said that she is pleased with the rhythm the new store is experiencing, calling Fenwick a “nice, happy medium for the area” that offers the benefits of resort foot-traffic and crowds while not being as hectic as more populated areas like Ocean City. Moving to Fenwick, she also pointed out, allows C&E to carry on its 30-year tradition of being a Delaware store.
As far as future expansions go, either in Fenwick or beyond, Winnington confirmed a potential interest down the road.
“We’ll probably do more in the future,” she said.
But for now, C&E is still “feeling the water out” in Fenwick and working to become familiar with Winnington’s new, custom-work focused business plan. But even with big changes in how the store operates, Winnington said that many things have stayed familiar and, while her mother may have officially retired and passed on the torch, she and the rest of the family are still very much involved in C&E’s operations.