House Of J welcomes visitors into its creative displays of art, floral, home décor, and gifts. Patti Van Buren, House of J owner, says she offers a selection of décor she knows customers are looking for.
“I work with our customers on a pretty regular basis,” Van Buren says. “I try to listen to what I feel the customers are looking for because we have a very established customer base.”
Before she owned House of J, Van Buren worked at Nebraska Credit Union for over 36 years. She decorated in her free time and designed several of their branch offices. As a long-time customer, when she found out House Of J was closing after over 20 years, she took a leap of faith.
“I always had a desire to work at a store like this, but I never thought that I’d be an owner,” Van Buren says.
Van Buren took over House Of J two months before the pandemic hit. She says the pandemic made the transition difficult, but the shop already had an established customer base. She worked many hours and kept new merchandise coming in. Van Buren says she offered curbside service and engaged with customers on social media.
Since taking over, Van Buren has found ways to make the shop her own. She initially gave the space a refresh —repainting, laying new carpet and whitewashing the brick. She keeps the space fresh with new displays and, most recently, updated the logo for a modern look.
“I think my ordering is a little bit different,” Van Buren says. “I try to make sure I always have plenty of inventory to refresh the store on a regular basis.”
House of J provides décor for all areas of the home. Customers can create the perfect atmosphere in any room with the shop’s wide selection of wall art, accent pillows, florals, and vases.
Van Buren also expanded the business. She says she travels to customers’ homes to help decorate.
One of her favorite aspects of curating the shop is selecting art. Van Buren says she works with one local artist and uses several different vendors.
“Art is a big deal in Omaha. A lot of customers come in specifically for our art,” Van Buren says. “Our walls are full of art. We set up vignettes throughout the store around the art to show what you can do with it in a space.”
Van Buren says her customers enjoy exploring the new pieces when they arrive.
“Some of them don’t last long,” Van Buren says. “We’ll put them up on the walls, and they’re gone before you know it.”
Van Buren says she loves working in customer service. She has made connections with people all over the Omaha metro.
“I love being out on the floor and meeting new people,” Van Buren says. “I’ve developed a lot of relationships with our customers, and I feel like they’ve become my friends.”
Locals aren’t the only customers drawn to the store. Van Buren says people come from all over the country. She has customers from Kansas City, Sioux Falls and Arizona stop in the shop when they’re in town.
“A lot of our customers are from word of mouth,” Van Buren says. “I’ll be talking with customers, and they’ll say, ‘Oh we need to send our friends here.’”
Van Buren says she enjoys connecting with customers who come into the store, even if they don’t purchase anything.
“A lot of feedback I get from customers is that there isn’t another store like us, and that’s why they love coming in, it’s about the experience for them,” Van Buren says. “It’s such a joy to have people come in and experience the store. For all our efforts, it’s not all about what people spend, it’s about having them walking out and having a good experience.” ◆