New owner takes over furniture store


Marty Bass, the new owner of Elm City Furniture, on Monday at the business on Main Street in Elm City.


Staff Writer

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

ELM CITY — Tommy Sullivan and Robert Vick were cautiously optimistic that someone would come out of the woodwork and take over Elm City Furniture before the businessmen decided to retire and close it down.

Their intuition came to fruition as the furniture store that opened in 1902 as a combined furniture store and funeral home formerly called Cobb Furniture was sold to Elm City native Marty Bass, who took over as the new owner on Oct. 15. The terms of the deal were undisclosed.

Sullivan and Vick took over Cobb Furniture on July, 1, 2008, after purchasing it from third-generation owner Tommy Cobb and rebranded the store to Elm City Furniture.

“I live in Wilson, but this is my hometown and I grew up knowing this store,” Bass said. “Everybody I know shopped here and it was just a part of life to come here. Tommy and Robert were actively involved in the business until Saturday when they finally retired. They stayed and worked with me over two weeks. They taught me and mentored me and they’re still available if I need them to help. They want to see me do well.”

Before purchasing Elm City Furniture, Bass spent 26 years in the insurance business and prior to that worked as a drafter for a land surveying company. Bass said she always had a passion for furniture and decorating since she has an interior design degree from East Carolina University.

It was Bass’ husband who found out about the furniture store being up for sale and thought it would be a good fit because he knew she was ready to make a career change.

“We heard about it and immediately thought it would be something I would want to do, so I got in touch with the owners and we talked about six weeks,” Bass said. “I kept going back-and-forth whether to do it or not. I was just a little scared, but sometimes you’ve got to make a leap of faith.”

The 116-year-old furniture store in the small town in Wilson County has always had a strong customer following in Nash and Edgecombe counties over the years. Bass said there had been some rumblings in the community about Elm City Furniture closing, but she wants to put those rumors to bed.

“We have a lot of people that come from the Rocky Mount area, so we want to let everyone know in Rocky Mount, Nash and Edgecombe counties that we’re still open and we’ve never closed one day,” she said. “We had a lot of people that have called wanting to know when would be the last day.”

Bass has kept the staff in place, which consists of two delivery workers and one sales person. She has hired an extra salesman as well. Bass plans to keep the store mostly the same but said she does want to add some more decorative accessories such as things customers can put on the end of their tables and coffee tables as well stocking more lamps and wall prints.

“I want to spice it up a little bit but not too much,” Bass said.

Free delivery to Rocky Mount and the Twin Counties will continue as Elm City Furniture has branded itself on providing quality personalized service.

“We deliver free to the local community, which is Wilson, Nash and Edgecombe counties, and that means a lot because a lot people still charge,” Bass said.

As a new owner taking over a staple business, Bass understands the longevity and success of Elm City Furniture gives her plenty of good reasons to believe she has made a solid investment.

“Of course, I want it to grow more — but as long as I can continue to do the business they’ve done, I will be satisfied,” Bass said. 

Bass added she will be do doing a drawing in the future to give away a recliner for Christmas and plans to do some things at the store for the holiday season. The store hours will be changed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting Thursday. Elm City Furniture will operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, while Being closed on Wednesday .