CLINTON – Lou Ray opened Deja Vu Furniture and Accessories at 101 Fifth Ave. S. in Clinton about 10 years ago.
“We owned the building. It was empty,” Ray said. “I actually saw this kind of store in other, bigger towns, and I thought Clinton could use one.”
Deja Vu sells furniture, decorations, jewelry, household and garden items and clothing for women, children and babies on consignment. That means Ray offers other people’s goods for sale, but she doesn’t take everything. If Ray doesn’t think anyone will buy an item, she’s wasting her time and space in the store to stock it, she said.
“I’m extremely picky about what I take in.”
Consignment business is trending upward, and Deja Vu is following the trend. “It changes over time,” Ray said, but sales are generally moving up.
“Retail seems to be on a different path right now,” Ray said.
Deja Vu features pumpkins and children’s Halloween costumes in it’s front window display in September, but Ray closes the shop for a couple of days in October to set up Christmas displays.
“I always seem to do very good with the different holidays,” said Ray. She sometimes feels that she puts out Christmas decorations too early, but her customers seem to like that. “They’re spreading their buying out further and further.”
“Christmas is my biggest season,” Ray said, but most of her sales come in October.
Deja Vu sells new items as well. The shop sells Melissa and Doug toys, “toys that make you think,” Ray said. She particularly likes the crayons that are not round and will not roll off of a desk.
Magic sets, puzzles, costumes and career oriented toys such as Pet Vet are available at Deja Vu. “It’s just quality stuff that’s going to last,” Ray said.
Ray’s granddaughter, Jordan Runge-Ray, acts as toy tester at the store, Ray said. “She’s become very good at knowing that she gets to play with the toys here,” Ray said, but Jordan also knows the toys will be gone when someone buys them.
Customers know Jordan and will ask what toys she likes, Ray said. They also know Scrappy, Ray’s little dog who hangs out at the store and wanders in and out of the Sunday morning podcasts Ray creates for her Deja-Vu-ers.
“We hope to be here for a long time,” Ray said. She plans to retire sometime, but daughter Erin Ray, who works at the store on a regular basis, is prepared for that.
“I have heard my daughter tell people, ‘Don’t worry. I’m taking it over when Mom retires,’” Ray said.
Ray said she has a great location — the corner of two downtown streets with parking on both sides, a parking lot nearby and a view of the Mississippi River.
The Rays, who live above the store, are now offering that view to tourists. They’ve started renting rooms on the second floor. “We just started the Air B & B [a month ago],’” Ray said. “It’s been full ever since.”
A second room will be ready to rent soon. Called Pops River at Deja Vu, the bed and breakfast apartment rents for $50 a night. “It’s more cost effective than getting a hotel,” Ray said, and it feels like home.
Guests have come from Texas, Boston, Minnesota and Missouri, Ray said. They are welcomed by Ray’s teacup tree to Deja Vu, downtown Clinton and the mighty Mississippi River.