By Donald Wittkowski
Quite often, the typical experience for customers at a furniture store is to be swarmed by commissioned salespeople as soon as they walk through the door.
Step inside Coastal Designer Outlet in Ocean View, though, and you’re free to browse as long as you like without being pressured into a deal, says store owner Dan Powell and manager Werner Tedesco.
“We enjoy having you come in and taking a look around,” said Tedesco, a Cape May resident and 30-year veteran of the furniture business in Cape May County. “We’re going to give you space to get a feel for what we have. We’re not to hawk you.”
Powell said the no-pressure atmosphere reflects the strong relationship he has built up with his customers in the nine years he has owned Coastal Designer Outlet.
“We strive to make everyone comfortable,” he said.
Powell noted that his business strategy combines superior customer service with affordable pricing for high-quality furniture and accessories that feature a decidedly seashore vibe.
“We’re geared primarily toward second homeowners and beach homes, although we can accommodate just about everybody,” he said.
Coastal Designer Outlet is located in the Ocean View section of Dennis Township at 556 Sea Isle Boulevard, at the corner of Route 9, right next to a Wawa. It is just outside of Sea Isle City.
Powell, an Ocean City native who also owns Complete Interiors in Avalon, opened Coastal Designer Outlet in 2008 to provide affordably priced furniture and seashore-themed accessories for the Cape May and Atlantic County marketplace.
Sea Isle City, which is filled with beachfront summer vacation homes, is the store’s primary customer base. The store also serves Avalon, Wildwood, Ocean City and little bit of Cape May. Powell and Tedesco said they also have customers in the surrounding mainland communities.
Coastal Designer Outlet carries an array of brand name furniture, including Bassett, Ashley, Braxton Culler, Overnight Sofa Co. and other favorites. Although the store primarily sells new furniture, bargain hunters can also find scratch-and-dents and discontinued items at discount prices.
“We search out discontinued items and closeouts. Whenever we can find a deal, we pass that on to our customer base,” Powell said.
What may distinguish Coastal Designer Outlet the most from other furniture stores is its collection of hard-to-find artwork and accessories featuring unique designs to add some splash to seashore homes.
“We try to create a seashore vibe, with durability in mind,” Tedesco said.
The store is a veritable treasure trove of whimsical items. There is a replica of a saber-toothed tiger skull, Victorian-style hot air balloon decorations hanging from the ceiling and miniature lifeguard boats stamped with the names of Jersey Shore towns, just to name a few.
“We call it upping our cool factor,” Tedesco said of the unusual décor.
Powell explained that the store also carries artwork and accessories that can be customized for each home. For instance, one piece of wall art on display says “Ludlam Island Whaling Company Old North Wharf.”
Ludlam Island was the original name for Sea Isle City, which means the artwork would fit perfectly in a home in Sea Isle, Powell said. The same artwork can be customized to have the names of other shore towns, he noted.
Altogether, the store carries bedroom sets, sofas, curios, dining tables, accent tables, lamps, paintings, accessories, beach chairs, blinds, shutters, drapes, cornices and more.
On its website, Coastal Designer Outlet proclaims that it has the “greatest collection of shore décor.”
Perhaps best of all, customers needn’t worry if they want to come in and casually take a look around. They’ll be no high-pressure salespeople looking over their shoulder, Powell and Tedesco assured.
“We hear it from our customers all of the time. They tell us, ‘Thank you for letting us breathe and look,’” Tedesco said.