A small used furniture store in Mid-City could be just what you’re looking for when decorating the house of your dreams, especially on a budget.
Located on the corner of Toulouse and N. Pierce streets, House Stuff is an unassuming shop, formerly a neighborhood grocery store, that’s been selling used furnishings and art for almost six years. The shop is owned by Flora Schulkens, who has a love of furniture in her blood. She’s the daughter of Louis “Vico” Marziale, who was in the furniture liquidation business in New Orleans for almost 50 years. “Before [House Stuff], I was partners with my dad and we had the Canal Furniture on the bayou,” Schulkens says. “We sold it in 2013 when Dad finally retired.”
After a lifetime spent in the business, Schulkens has developed an eye for quality, which is exactly what she found when the building (mere blocks from the old Canal Furniture) went up for rent. “I saw the For Rent sign, and I knew it wasn’t there the day before,” she says. “I knew it would be snapped up quickly, so I called the realtor and made an appointment the same day to see it.” Empty for more than 20 years, the space had recently been beautifully renovated with polished concrete floors; central air; and gorgeous, original tin ceiling tiles. “People will compliment the ceiling, and I say, ‘I wish it was mine, but it’s not,’” Schulkens says.
At only 2,000 square feet, House Stuff is certainly on a much smaller scale than her father’s business, but daily buying trips with her husband Allen and a steady customer base keep her inventory in a constant state of flux. “We bring in a truckload of furniture every single day, except Sunday,” Schulkens says. “I don’t have time to stay in the store, but Paris and Andrew run the store for me seven days a week.” From 5 a.m. ’til dark, Schulkens and her husband can be found hunting for treasures at estate sales all over the Greater New Orleans Area.
One of the remarkable things about House Stuff is its specialization in vintage, solid wood furnishings. Schulkens is a stickler for quality merchandise, reselling used pieces with names like Lane, Drexel, Henrik Allman and Henry Lake. “I don’t even know new dealers selling solid wood furniture aside from Doerr,” Schulkens says. “Solid wood furniture is just so expensive now.” Also, unlike some of her competitors, Schulkens offers surprisingly reasonable prices on her finds — prices so fair she is unwilling to haggle.
Due to her lifetime love of furniture, Schulkens is sincere in her desire to help people find the right fit, even if it means losing the sale. “I know it’s not good business, but, if customers are unsure, I tell them to go home and think about it,” she says. “I’ve actually talked people out of purchases, just to make sure they have the right piece.” Schulkens also has gone so far as to sell pieces from her own home to ensure maximum customer satisfaction.
Naturally, over the years, Schulkens has saved many pieces for herself, but lately she’s been working on her own collection of art. “I bring tons of stuff home, and most of it is art,” she says. “I sell very distinctive art, originals and prints, and I just fall in love with the art pieces.”
Though Schulkens could have left the furniture business behind when her father retired, she has no intention of doing so and no plans to stop in the future. “I just love sharing something so treasured and valuable, getting it from one person who no longer needs it to someone who does,” she says. 3939 Toulouse St., (504) 638-7332, facebook.com/housestuffnola