Dan Ellis, retiring owner of The Floor Store in Newton, described himself as a “relic” of the modern day flooring business.
He never gave a second thought to using computer software or some other kind of streamlined method to conduct specific job measurements. Everything he did was by pencil, measuring tape and graph paper. Tickets and invoices were handwritten. This is how he was taught when he first learned to install carpeting at age 25. “The old fashioned way,” some folks might say. But it was the only way for the 66-year-old business owner.
Rejecting those advanced technologies to replace what some might call tedious work practices certainly did not impair The Floor Store from adequately serving the community for more than 35 years. Even now, as Dan and his wife, Margaret, clear the now-closed downtown Newton storefront of its inventory and displays, the two co-owners end their business on a high note, reporting three record years in a row.
“It was a very good business. It still is a very good business,” Dan said Wednesday, four days after officially closing The Floor Store. Although several neon-colored, paper signs were posted all across the windows of the shop to inform customers of the Ellises’ retirement, the phone is still ringing. Dan is quick to answer, ready to jot down notes with pen and paper at the ready.
Ongoing flooring contracts are booked until the end of May, Dan said. The jobs he and Margaret are measuring now are to be picked up by Brian and Nicki Shores of Store For Homes in Newton. The Shoreses did not outright purchase the North Second Avenue East storefront, but they did buy the shop inventory and will adopt the Ellises’ flooring installers. Dan and Margaret will be on hand at Store For Homes for a short time to transition their trade work to their fellow business owners.
“We did some remodeling at the store and expanded to fit some of their stuff out here,” Brian said. “They had some really good installers that have been working for them for 25 or 30 years and they still are going to want to keep installing. So the same people that have been installing for them are going to come work for us. It’s going to work out pretty good I think.”
Store For Homes expects to start flooring services within the next couple of days. Primarily a furniture retailer, Store For Homes has been a Newton mainstay — similar to The Floor Store — since 1998. The two businesses had worked in tandem with one another for years; both sets of owners often recommended the services from the opposite stores to customers. Interested in getting into the flooring and carpeting business, Brian told Dan and Margaret to reach out to him when they decided to retire.
In addition to expanding the services of Store For Homes, the furniture business is also taking up the responsibility of The Floor Store’s reputation for “quality first.” Brian said he admired that about Dan and Margaret, and he intends to continue that business philosophy upon acquiring their longstanding flooring practices.
After the Ellises finish their month-long transitional training for Brian and Nicki, Margaret said she will stick around to work part-time for the First Avenue West shop. Scheduled to work a couple days a week or by appointment, Margaret said she still loves her job. But, at the same time, she wants to be able to take a vacation with her husband every once in a while. The last two-week vacation the Ellises went on together was back in 1982, Margaret said.
“I could leave for a week or he could leave for 10 days, but not together,” Margaret said.
Sometimes they would be lucky enough to get away from the store and enjoy some free time together at Okoboji or maybe out of state. “If business dictates that we can get away,” Dan said with a laugh. Margaret was quick to remind Dan that even when they did find time to relax on vacation they were bombarded with phone calls from work.
“We were in Granada, and they found us,” she said. “Dan spent an hour on the phone with them while I did my thing.”
Dan welcomes retirement life after working at The Floor Store for a little more than three-and-a-half decades, establishing the shop when he was still working for the Newton Fire Department. Retirement, he admitted, will be “a big adjustment” for him, but it’s well-deserved. Dan had worked three jobs during the first seven years The Floor Store was open; when he wasn’t working at the fire department, Dan was procuring flooring jobs and installing it all himself.
“When I retired from the fire department, this is all I’ve done since. When I wasn’t at the fire department, I was here just about every other day, even Sundays. That’s just kind of the way it was,” Dan recalled. “We’ve done this, for the most part, six days a week ever since.”
Living in Newton his entire life likely helped his business, he said. Knowing just about every person in town was almost certainly an advantage for the retiring storeowner. With flooring projects slated for the local hospital, the departed country club and businesses all along the town square and beyond, The Floor Store staff kept itself fairly busy through the years. Even more so recently.
“We felt like we had something for everybody and we treated everybody the same,” Dan said.
Now, it has come to an end for The Floor Store. The Ellises said they’re ready to move on.
Looking forward to not having the stress that comes with owning and operating a business, Margaret and Dan said they will miss one thing about the job.
“We are going to miss our people,” Margaret said.
Dan added, “We greatly appreciate all the patronage we had from everybody. When you carry it on for almost 36 years you get a lot.”
Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or firstname.lastname@example.org