It is universally acknowledged that when a woman skilled in interior design meets a man who studied entrepreneurial economics, good things are gonna come from that pair. For Sonja Thams and Ben Deering, that thing is Deerhaus Decor at Findlay Market. Thams manages the buying and running of the shop while Deering handles the behind-the-scenes side. The name is a meld of the two: Deer from Ben’s last name, haus because Thams’s father is from Germany.
“The building had been vacant for a really long time, so it needed a ton of renovation,” Thams says. And renovate they did—entirely themselves. “We took surveys at the market to see what people wanted in the area—grocery store, more restaurants. But we don’t have experience in those. The third thing was a shop with local goods. So we ran with our own version of that, what we’re passionate about.”
That passion has manifested in a trove of finds, both vintage and new, with a bent toward sustainability. Like Bee’s Wrap, an alternative to plastic wrap that’s made in Vermont; flower pots 3-D printed from recycled plastic, which hail from Cleveland; and Little River Sock Mill socks from Ft. Payne, Alabama—a family company resurrected by the daughter that uses all-organic cotton and low-impact dyes. Local vendors are well represented, particularly in the bath and beauty department: Thams stocks body butters, scrubs, soaps, deodorants, candles, and more from Queen City Alchemy and Orange Fuzz. There are also greeting cards, hand-carved wooden kitchen goods, jewelry, and remarkably reworked vintage fixtures—and a whole corner of vintage beer memorabilia, particularly from Cincinnati brewers.
All told, it’s perhaps more apt to describe Thams’s role as creative director than simply buyer—and the eclectic-yet-coherent vibe of the store stands as proof of her vision. She finds makers on her own and contacts them directly. Plus, she says, “We source all of the vintage items ourselves. We find things as we go, a little bit here and there.” Like the wool bow ties handmade by a small Scottish maker they found while visiting the country. More recently, says Thams, “We got back from a trip to the Southwest. So we brought back turquoise, and [now] have a little Southwest-inspired area. We do that a lot. When we go on trips, we always find people.”
Good to know
Thams is a designer and maker, too, with a line of natural-dye scarves called Eco-Raw: “I’ve been recently collaborating with Skeleton Root [winery], using their leftovers to dye scarves.”
Deerhaus Decor, 135 W. Elder St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 808-0442, deerhausdecor.com