January 21, 2022

Chaos Reigns, and the Ladies Love it, at Deep River Store on Main Street

The grand view of Chaos

Joann Hourigan refers to her store, Chaos, as “my therapy,” when she is talking about her truly unique enterprise at 114 Main Street in Deep River. Then, when asked why she named her store “Chaos,” she says, “Because that’s my life.”

In addition to owning Chaos, in real life so to speak, Hourigan is also Executive Director of the Deep River Housing Authority, where she has worked for 19 years. The Authority operates Kirtland Commons, which is a home for 31 elderly and disabled residents. “I love my residents and their families,” she says.  One of the residents is 102 years old.

Chaos owner Joanne Hourigan in mirror

“It’s social work,” is what she calls her work at the Commons, and it   gives her a lot of satisfaction to help people in need. At Chaos on the other hand it’s “another story.” “There, I have a chance to create, and that is what I really enjoy.”

Because of her schedule at the Commons, Hourigan frequently leaves running Chaos to Caroline Lemley, a 19 year old U-Conn sophomore. Hourigan calls Lemley, “My main girl.  She runs the place. People love her, and she is awesome at picking things out for customers.”

Chaos staffer Caroline Lemley

Regardless of who is in charge at a particular time, don’t think for a minute that the operation of Chaos is in any way “chaotic.” In fact, it is a tightly run and very successful enterprise, one that by offering an apparent jumble of goods, arouses a customer’s curiosity to find just the right thing; and then once found the customer buys it, even though they didn’t know they wanted it in the first place.

The floor space at Chaos is 300 square feet, allowing only a fifteen by twenty foot sales area. If the clutter of items was spread out in a normal manner, the floor space would have to be twice the size.

Above all, Hourigan wants Chaos to be “a fun place to come into.” “There are treasurers everywhere,” she says, “even stuff in birdcages.” “I love it that it is so packed in here,” she continues, “That is part of its charm.”

Looking about carefully cluttered Chaos, one sees practically every kind of feminine accessory known to man. “We are selling scarves, handbags and jewelry, and a lot of custom jewelry,” Hourigan says.

Crowded table top at Chaos

Also, partially open draws at Chaos bulge with cascades of objects, and every open space on tables are piled high with a profusion of necklaces, clasps, pins, bracelets and many other ornaments that intrigue and enhance the feminine taste.

Turnover is very quickly,” says Hourigan. Quick turnover means that even if a customer was in the store just a few days before, when she returns to the store a few days later, she can find new things to buy on her return visit.

The recent Christmas holiday was a boom at Chaos. “Christmas was fabulous,” says Hourigan. Racks of women’s clothing were sold, “and we even ran out of boots,” she says.

Chaos’ reasonable prices also encourage a quick turnover of goods for sale. At Chaos earrings cost $18, necklaces $20, and dresses and tops $28. Some of the necklaces sold at Chaos can be mistaken for heirlooms, according to at least one regular shopper at the store.

Bottle caps from Chaos

Also, when it’s warm enough, Chaos offers a running sequence of appealing sidewalk sales. One item of particular popularity is the “buck bowl.” Everything in the bowl costs a buck, i.e. a dollar, no matter what its original price.

When asked, how she selects the items that go into the “buck bowl,” Hourigan says, “I throw in things that I am tired of, or have only one left.” Fishing in the “buck bowl” is a very popular pastime for shopping anglers.

Store hours at Chaos are: Wednesday thru Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There are some stores in our area, when at times you cannot find what you are looking for. However, most of the time at Chaos, you’ll find it.