Stories and photos by Constance Cherise
LONDONDERRY, NH – As a regular patron of the furniture/novelty shop Déjà Vu Furniture and More, every few months I stop in to see what new outrageous oddities and extravagant furniture have arrived. This particular day I had no direct plans for visiting; however, my attention seemed to be pulled in their direction as I approached. Recalling it had been a few months – or quite possibly longer – since the last time I visited, I surmised it would be a great break in the middle of the day to press pause and take a walk through the shop’s collection of novelties.
An admirer of nostalgia, I first discovered Déjà Vu Furniture and More about five years ago simply out of complete curiosity. Déjà Vu has a jaw-dropping effect on first-timers. Essentially, it’s like walking into the prop department of a motion picture studio, and within the first few moments of my visit a Rolodex of names flickered through my mind of people I should introduce this experience to.
Because it is an experience.
As a novelty shop to the umpteenth-power, there is no space where the eye will not catch something of interest. As a hotel liquidation store, gush-worthy furnishings beckon. A few short weeks after my first visit, I invited a friend with her own scrutinizing eye to take a tour along with me. She experienced the same effect that I did. Ideas were bouncing between us as to the settings where such elegant pieces of furniture could be placed. Our heads turned left to right, up and down and finally, making our way toward the rear of the store, I found my first purchase: A stately Chesterfield-style, brass nailhead-trim deep-seated hunter green crushed velvet sofa. I heard the music. I saw the glow, and as it so often happens with all of us, in its abiding elegance it spoke to me, clear as a bell, while I audibly gasped at its beauty, informing me it had been waiting for my arrival. I learned this particular sofa was from the famed Biltmore Hotel.
One week – and a discarded mattress and a professional cleaning – later, it had found its rightful home and it still talks to me. I so admire that piece. I introduce it to guests like a beloved child while also encouraging them to explore Déjà Vu’s wares for themselves.
Today, however, I am greeted by a Bianca Jagger life-sized sparkling Studio 54-esque horse and the disco ball that accompanies it, complete with disco music playing in the background, a sure sign of an interview worthy article … at least, in my book, as a dedicated Disco aficionado.
If the moon happens to show up … I’m a buyer.
In continuing to explore I find a new dedicated room of records (for those of us who remember what records actually are) and an entirely new wing with more rooms featuring “The Attic” full of even more furniture, chachkies, and novelty items.
The story of Déjà Vu and the store’s owners, Timothy and Martha Stavrou of Keene, is well chronicled. They have been featured on Roadside America and Chronicle New Hampshire, as well as the Londonderry View.
Six-foot-tall Grecian statues, a life-sized version of KISS, a gargantuan antique bar, storefront signs, two 9-foot-tall Clydesdale horses, flat screen TVs, mini refrigerators, barstools, lamps of every variety, and furniture from Art Deco to Louis to modern. Knick-knacks, paintings, chandeliers, movie props, memorabilia, antiques, fixtures, amusement park fare, and neon signs, along with countless additional items inhabit the offbeat emporium.
“I have to surround myself with things that make me happy, We are not here to educate, this is hotel furniture. It’s made to last. Furniture does not make me happy, the fun stuff – that’s my stuff,” says Timothy Stavrou as he explains his reputation for purchasing crazy items. “People find me. This goes on all day,”
His business is basically word of mouth, and as I have personally brought more than my fair share of potential patrons through, I can attest to his logic. Stavrou originally started in the hotel installation business, where he and staff assemble and/or disassemble hotel rooms. With a warehouse full of hotel-grade furniture, Stavrou eventually decided to open a space where he could liquidate his items.
In speaking about the unique atmosphere of the store, Stavrou reflects on first-time customers.
“I love looking at the expressions of people walking through the door, around every turn. It’s like, what the hell?! They’ve been Vu’d,” Stavrou says, with a wide satisfied grin on his face.
When asking how the brilliant name came about, Stavrou answered, “My older sister was a smarty,” he says, explaining that while trying to come up with a distinguished title his sister suggested the name.
“What about Déjà vu? You’ve seen it before,” she said. Realizing its cleverness, the signature stuck, Stavrou says.
Located above the store is the storage space where the public has no access, Stavrou’s “original” act. The massive 40,000-square-foot warehouse contains hotel furniture, both old and new. Items from countless establishments are stacked almost to the rafters. As Stavrou opens the door I am in awe, and cannot deny the feeling that I am walking into history.
Some furnishings are clearly recognizable time-warp pieces, their stylized design capturing their era. Chairs, ironing boards, refrigerators microwaves, mirrors, vanities, desks, fixtures – basically, any and all items you would find within a hotel can be found.
Stavrou takes me through the labyrinth where we encounter the genial “Figgy” (short for Figueroa), who is preparing new furniture items for travel to a hotel in Boston.
“The stuff we put in hotels now won’t fit in your house,” Stavrou explains, as he reveals an extravagant oversized desk cut in three separate pieces that require assembly. “All of this stuff you see here will be gone and delivered by December eighth.”
As we make our way to the front of the massive warehouse, Stavrou speaks breifly with a few of his staff loading a truck.
“I like to tell my guys I don’t need them but they are good guys,” Stavrou says with playful appreciation for his crew. He picks up what looks to be a mirror, at first glance.
“This is a heated mirror, and this is a television,” he says, pointing to a small rectangle toward the bottom of the piece. As he turns the mirror around exposing its monitor connections, he adds, “This is what’s going into hotels now.”
There is one mysterious item that has caught my eye. From a distance, it looks like a wrapped stand-up piano.
“What is that,” I ask?
“THAT?” Stavrou replies, ”That is the organ from the Boston Garden. “
No wonder I felt a grand sense of history upon entering the space.
As we make our way back to the store, Stavrou explains, “We love our installation business, but for me, my love is the novelty downstairs. I can do the novelty thing forever. A number of months ago a guy said, ‘OMG this place! I just spent $5K at Disney, and my kids had more fun here!’ That’s nice to hear,” Stavrou says.
⇒EVENT: Déjà Vu Furniture and More is holding its first annual Peppermint Tag Sale on Dec. 6-8, an event rumored to have even more outrageous items for your shopping entertainment. Tag Sale Hours: Thursday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Catch up on the details here via Déjà Vu Furniture and More on Facebook.
The fine print: Déjà Vu Furniture and More is located at 113 Hillside Ave., in Londonderry, 603-437-5571. Regular store hours are Tues. and Wed., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thurs. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Sundays and Mondays.
About the author
Constance Cherise is a multi-passionate entrepreneur. She is a classic movie-lover, empowerment coach, foodie, Disco “everything” fanatic, aspiring writer and artist. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.