Finding cool stuff for your home isn't hard in New Orleans. Neither is finding products that are made well. Finding cool stuff that's well made and affordable can get tricky, however, unless you've discovered the showroom at Cameron Jones for Your Home (2127 Magazine St., 524-3119).
Cameron Trenor and Joan Beaulieu joined their first names (at least phonetically) to come up with the name of the store, which they opened three-and-a-half years ago. A year ago they expanded their showroom into the storefront next door, more than doubling their sales space. Plus, the store offers customers off-street parking in a lot next to and behind the store.
You need to make more than one browsing circle around each room to get a real idea of all the offerings in the 2,200-square-foot space. Shoppers will find furniture, smaller accent pieces, all kinds of home decorating accessories, a variety of lighting options, original artworks, room dividers, desktop and wall-mounted fountains and much more.
"What we carry is more like accent furniture," Trenor says. "They go somewhere else to buy the big stuff. We carry everything else." The store actually does stock furniture, like a dining table and chairs, upholstered couches, easy chairs and stools, but it isn't the bulk of their business. Those pieces, however, are unusual in that their slipcovers, which have Velcro closures to make them fit snugly when they're on the furniture but make them easy to remove for cleaning. For those upholstered items, including metal-framed footstools as well as sling chairs, customers can choose from more than 50 fabric choices to individualize it for their home, Trenor says. In addition, the store carries some sofas that can be taken apart to make it easier to move them into lofts or other areas with limited-space access. It also can keep customers' floors covered with custom-designed rugs in a range of materials from ultra-long shag to close-cropped naps. "You can sit down and design your own rug and we'll have it put together for you," says Trenor, who adds an average price is about $240. "Everyone can afford them."
Trenor and Beaulieu are happy with their expanded space, but don't have plans to open a second location or develop Cameron Jones into a mega store. "It's difficult when you expand because there's so much to do," Trenor says. "There's something nice about being small. You have more personal contact with your customers."
Those customers include baby-boomers who want to refurbish and update the look of their home, younger customers looking for stylish but affordable accents and even teenagers who are looking for cool but inexpensive gifts for friends.
"We have a lot of the younger customers," Beaulieu says, "Then we have the baby boomers who are ready to get rid of their old stuff. I think we're reaching across the age and taste scale pretty well." Most of Cameron Jones' customer base is local, with about 20 percent visiting from out of town. The shop ships a lot of furniture and art items for the out-of-towners and will do custom orders on many items.
Even short stools and tall barstools come in a choice of finishes and fabrics so customers can mix and match with other styles in their homes. "We've been in business for a three-and-a-half years now, and we have a great relationship with our manufacturers. They will work with us to get exactly what the customer wants."
When it comes to art and accents, Cameron Jones endeavors to offer items not found elsewhere in the city, such as a gracefully sculpted acrylic chess set that comes in a range of modern colors; a "boing" bowl that delicately bounces on a spring base when you touch it; metal animal sculptures made by villagers in Zimbabwe out of 55-gallon oil drums and more. The store also exhibits about 13 local artists, including ceramics artist Kate Tonguis and oil painter Marcel Flisiuk, whose unusual visions on canvas sell at a rate of one a day, Trenor says.
"We like dealing with the local artists because you can work better with them (in replacing art that has sold, etc.)," Trenor says, "We also like knowing we are giving them a place to show their work. There's a lot of talent in this city."
Trenor and Beaulieu also work with Tonguis to develop ceramic creations just for the store. "We design the pieces and she makes them," Trenor says. "She also brings in her own stuff." Those items range from a tall multi-media vase to flat leaf designs and whimsical butter dishes.
The real secret to Cameron Jones' success is providing choices that customers can't find in other stores around town and offering them at a reasonable price. "Cameron has a penchant for picking out beautiful things," Beaulieu says. "It's fun doing this; there's always something new."
- Owners Joan Beaulieu (left) and Cameron Trenor and sales representative Christie Lina help customers find just the right home decorating accent, upholstered furniture or whimsical gift from the offerings at Cameron Jones.