In 1988, Tami Furlong opened Fundamentals so she and local teachers wouldn’t have to go all the way to Columbus to get teaching supplies and educational toys.
“I was having a hard time finding locally the things that I wanted,” Furlong said. “A girlfriend and I were talking one day and ‘you know we need a teacher store,’ and 90 days later (Fundamentals) opened. Shortly after we opened, it became pretty apparent that there was a need for this.”
On Tuesday, July 24, just a week before Fundamental’s 30-year anniversary on Aug. 1, Furlong said that the keys to staying in business is flexibility and the community.
“The key to being here for 30 years is flexibility,” Furlong said.
Furlong added when she opened in 1988, downtown Delaware was all family owned shops and stores, and then transitioned to an artsy and “boutiquey” type of downtown before becoming home to the restaurants and breweries that exist today.
“There have been big changes. I feel like I have been through three different versions of downtown,” Furlong laughed. “It’s a really nice mix right now. I loved it then, and I love it now…”
Furlong said Fundamentals has also changed in the last 30 years. The first change occurred just a year after opening when Fundamentals moved from its original location at 26 W. Winter St. to the current location at 25 W. Winter St. to gain more space. Furlong said she rebranded the store recently to Fundamentals Children’s Books, Toys, & Games, because the store had expanded beyond teaching and educational supplies.
Furlong said one of her favorite parts of being here for 30 years has been bringing authors and illustrators to visit the store and local schools.
“The other key is a very supportive community,” Furlong said. “Delaware turns out when we have events. The schools are really awesome. It’s been a really good partnership with them.”
Fundamentals was recently chosen as one of 27 stops on the Scholastic Summer Reading Road Trip and hosted the event on July 22, to resounding success according to Furlong.
“Scholastic was blown away,” Furlong said. “They said on the tour again, we were one of the best attended events, and that’s thanks to Delaware.”
Furlong said she enjoys seeing so many repeat customers since she opened.
“The cool thing is seeing the next generation, all the kids who started coming here 30 years ago bringing their kids in,” Furlong said. “I really enjoy that.”
She added that she also has to thank her husband and her daughters for their support over the last 30 years.
“I can’t see us leaving,” Furlong said. “We’ll keep growing, keep doing wonderful events and showing all the kids the wonderful books we have, and getting them excited about reading. I’ve never gotten up and dreaded going to work.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.