OCEAN PINES — When Elizabeth Stout opened Elisabeth’s Treasures two years ago she was completely content with occupying the bottom half of the converted split level home between Ocean Parkway and Manklin Meadows Lane, but had her eye on the upstairs.
Stout wanted the second floor not so much because it would provide her additional sales, although it surely would, but more because the wide range of items she had available to her for display outnumbered her floorspace almost two to one. So last month, when she had the opportunity to expand into the second floor of the building she moved in immediately and almost exactly two years to the day after she first opened her doors.
“We used to have two [warehouses],” she said. “Now we just have one.”
Stout’s success has been counter-intuitive for a shop that sells pre-owned furniture, jewelry and accessories in addition to original works from artists and artisans. One of the most significant aspects of her business is purchasing furniture from people and reselling it.
By being fair to both the sellers and her customers, Stout has established Elizabeth’s Treasures as the best place to purchase antique furniture as well as the most honest place to sell it.
The shop’s pickup and delivery policy — they do both for free, locally — has been another important aspect of growing and maintaining the furniture part of the business though it hasn’t quite been the biggest.
When Stout decided early on that she would sell hand-painted furniture, she did so with the belief that it would be a nice complement to her burgeoning business. Over the last two years, however, it has become a mainstay.
“I can’t keep the hand-painted furniture,” she said. “People just love it.”
What customers are primarily drawn to, though, is that fact that the stock is ever changing.
Some people visit weekly and some daily just to see what new treasure Stout has discovered or elected to put on display.
The shop’s stock is a reflection of her taste or, more properly, the taste her customers have helped her cultivate over the last two years. The items she buys are always bought by the piece, even when she ends up purchasing several pieces at a time.
“It’s always Christmas around here, we never know what’s coming in the door,” she said. “It’s exciting.”
Her primary concern is to make sure that it is something her customers will appreciate, which is another reason she gets so many visitors.
There’s a particular attraction to wandering through the shop, especially since the second floor was added.
Even items that one might not feel are appropriate for their own home radiate a sense that they belong in someone’s home.
Similarly the jewelry, much of which is sterling although they do have an amount of gold as well, is vintage or unique but often both. In fact, over the last two years, Stout said, Elizabeth’s Treasures has broadened their jewelry selection.
Stout doesn’t have employees but there are plenty of people who come and volunteer their time just because it is such a fun and interesting place to be.
One of the volunteers, Laura Blinn, is a professional interior designer. In addition to helping keep a jam packed store from having a cluttered look or claustrophobic feel, she also advises many of Elizabeth’s Treasures’ clients.
Although the shop is usually closed Mondays, as the final week of holiday shopping approaches, they will be open. Stout said this year customers shopping for gifts have been thoroughly satisfied, not only with the quality and price of their selections but also the service Stout and her volunteers provide.
People, she said, have the option and certainly the opportunity to browse, but if they want to make the experience a little faster, speed comes naturally to everyone at Elizabeth’s Treasures.
“Sometimes people what to get in, get a gift, and go,” she said. “We can get it wrapped, bowed and done for them as quickly as they need to.”
In addition to buying products outright, Elizabeth’s Treasures also sells art on consignment. If a painter, photographer, or an artisan has something Stout things her customers would be interested in, she is always happy to take them on board.