If any wood deserves its own store, teak does. The tropical hardwood is durable and water resistant, with a beautiful tight grain and a smell reminiscent of leather when freshly cut.
A favorite of the boat building industry for years, today teak is mostly used for fine indoor and outdoor furniture.
On the Fourth of July in 2000, Alice DiGiovanni and Ken Hoeft, both of Cape May, started offering teak furniture designed for shore homes through their Fabulous Home and Patio business.
The most visible part of the firm is the Teak Outlet, a store on New Road in Somers Point near the tourist path to Ocean City.
But the store does just 30 percent of Fabulous Home's business, DiGiovanni said.
"We do all of the big home and garden shows on the East Coast. Our booths are $10,000 to $12,000 a weekend or more. That's our business actually," she said. "The outlet store is just for our local customers, and as a showroom for people who don't purchase at the shows."
She said the firm's biggest venue is the annual Philadelphia Flower Show.
Fabulous Home has a warehouse in Somers Point and delivers by truck from Rhode Island to Virginia, she said.
"We had a guy fly in from Rochester (N.Y.) and purchase furniture for an entire house, about 30 pieces," DiGiovanni said. "We had a gentleman from Providence (R.I.) last year come in and order for two houses."
Fabulous Home designs its furniture – such as a narrow table for Ocean City's generally smaller decks – and has it made in Indonesia. "It takes 60 days to manufacture and five weeks on the water to get here," she said.
Most items are available right away from the warehouse.
The centerpiece of the furniture line is dining tables with leaves hinged to cleverly fold and store under the shortened tabletop. Hoeft said he thinks the leaf system started as a Chinese design about 200 years ago.
Those start at $299 and are available from 4 to 12 feet long.
DiGiovanni said that at the outlet, deep-seated chairs and loveseats with Sunbrella cushions for deck or sunroom are popular, as are custom bar tables and bar tops.
Fabulous Home also does a significant amount of commercial work, most recently at Revel Casino-Hotel for the high-roller pool cabanas, she said.
The firm has decorated spaces for the Hyatt and Marriott hotel chains, and "last week we delivered 80 Adirondack chairs" to the Cape May-Lewis Ferry.
Those were made of plastic composite, a material Fabulous Home has started offering for those who want a look other than natural wood.
"Polywood is a big thing this year, because a lot of people want bright colors, such as hot pink or key lime," she said. In Stone Harbor and Avalon, a lot of customers want white.
Fabulous Home's teak is all farmed and sustainable, grown and processed by Perum Perhutani, a state-owned company in Indonesia.
Perhutani said it was the world's first company certified under the Rainforest Alliance's SmartWood program for sustainable forest management, in 1990.
That certification was revoked in 2002, when the company didn't meet the New York nonprofit conservation group's standards then. Since then, Perhutani has worked to meet the latest standards, and 16 of the forests it operates were recommended for certification in 2009.
DiGiovanni said Fabulous Home and Patio has been working in the Key Largo, Fla., market the past three years and by fall will open a second Teak Outlet there.
Contact Kevin Post:
Location: 701 New Road (Route 9),
Owners: Alice DiGiovanni and Ken Hoest, both of Cape May
Revenue: Not disclosed
Phone: 609-287-1767, 609-287-7207