A pair of sisters-in-law have “repurposed” their long relationship into a business partnership with the opening of a new enterprise in downtown Peabody.
Sue Klassen of Hillsboro and Linda Maudlin of Hutchinson have opened “Deja Vu” at 113 N. Walnut as a place for people to find repurposed but affordable treasures they have created.
“We’re not looking for the high-end antique stuff,” Klassen said. “If it falls into our lap, we’re going to take it, but most of the time we’re trying to find stuff we can repurpose and still be able to afford to sell it to the common man.”
The two women have gotten to know each other well in the years since Klassen married Maudlin’s brother. Klassen has an artistic bent while Maudlin enjoys collecting and refinishing antiques.
“I’ve been doing it for years,” Maudlin said. “I would go out to estate sales, buy pieces and refinish them for me—something upscale that I liked. Then, when I found something better, I’d get rid of it.”
Klassen said: “Last year I started helping her. I started making purses out of old coats and vests and belts—stuff like that. So we started putting that together.”
They found out they make a good team.
“We really do—and we’re good enough friends that if we don’t like the direction the other one is heading, we can tell the other and it’s OK,” Klassen said. “If I’m redoing a piece of furniture, I’ll always ask her opinion because she’s done it longer than I have and I don’t want to mess it up.”
For a time, the partners transported their creations to flea markets and other selling venues, but the high price of gasoline got them thinking about opening a permanent location.
Klassen, who was working as the temporary postmaster in Peabody at the time, talked with Shane Marler of the town’s Main Street Association about potential stores in town and found out that Pam Lamborn was interested in closing her Jack Rabbit Hollow store.
When the partners found out Lamborn was interested in renting the building to them, they took the leap. They began selling their merchandise—as well as some of Lamborn’s remaining stock—around Thanksgiving.
The store opened as DeJa Vu the first of January.
“We started out as “Second Chance Vintage Designs,” but decided people might think it’s garage-sale stuff,” Klassen said. “We wanted to get rid of that, so we decided to go with Deja Vu. It’s kind of like, ‘It’s deja vu—but it ain’t like you saw it before.’”
While the two women work to create more of their own inventory, they have been “filling the gaps” with consignment crafts from Marion County sources.
And they’ve even gotten another family member to participate.
Arnold “Pete” Klassen of Hillsboro—Maudlin’s father and Sue Klassen’s father-in-law—has been displaying some old clocks from his extensive collection.
“We’re trying to get him to bring more of those in because it’s something we could display here,” Maudlin said.
Klassen and Maudlin say the public response to the store has been “fantastic.”
“People really like it,” Maudlin said. “Sales aren’t that good yet, but the economy right now is bad. We knew that coming in to Christmas—and after the first of the year, it’s always rough.”
The partners plan to use their website and Facebook to reach prospective customers in the region who enjoy shopping for repurposed items on the weekends.
“The majority of the people who actually come through the door are people who make a normal circuit through town to go to the other antiques stores,” Klassen said.
Klassen and Maudlin say they hope to keep those customers coming back by rotating the goods they’re marketing.
“We have a very eclectic mix of things in here, and things will alway be changing,” Klassen said. “To say, ‘Oh, I’ve already been there and saw what they have’—that ain’t going to hold water.”
As if starting a new business isn’t challenging enough, both women plan to continue their full-time jobs and open the store on weekends.
“We have a friend who comes and opens the shop for us on Fridays, so we can be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Klassen said. “Then on the weekends we both make it down here—one or two or both of us. (Maudlin) spends the weekend at my house.”
Klassen will soon begin a new assignment as full-time postmaster in Buhler, while Maudlin is a bookkeeper for a collection agency in Hutchinson.
But that could work in their favor, too.
“I live in Hutchinson, and with her coming to Buhler now, if she needs to stay the night, it’s going to be handy,” Maudlin said. “We can work on projects together.”
Maudlin also has a sideline avocation of organizing and managing estate sales for people who don’t want to work through the myriad issues of doing it themselves.
The women continue to work to expand their floor space. The front part of the store is filled with sale items, but they want to expand into the next room as well, using half of it for display and half as a workroom.
The building also has a “back half” that they’d like to use someday as a place to store the items they collect for future repurposing.
Deja Vu is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
“We can take requests,” Klassen added. “If you’re looking for a certain piece, we can try to find it for you. And we wouldn’t be opposed to simple upholstery projects.”