Gift Shop Stories
The Crescent City is famous for its soirees, but this birthplace of jazz beckons you to move your feet for more than the music.
The shopping districts in New Orleans are thriving and fervently loyal to their local artists and cultural heritage. Aside from a plethora of must-haves, including Mardi Gras masks, beads, pralines and anything with a Fleur de Lis illustration, the culmination of Southern charm and French history has helped collect an assortment of rarities specific to the NOLA locale.
New Orleans’ charisma is uniquely its own — and there’s plenty of je ne sais quoi for everyone.
Roux Royale | www.shoprouxroyale.com
Michele Spansel, general manager
Located in the heart of the French Quarter, Roux Royale’s products cater to that Fleur de Lis love for locals and tourists alike.
With the location centered in the hottest tourist spot for travelers, you might find their staff has more to offer than kitchen giftware. Manager Michele Spansel said great customer service is key to running a business, and her staff’s service goes above and beyond.
“We do not just sell food and kitchen items. We often give directions of how to get around in the French Quarter, recipe tips, nearby restaurant suggestions,” Spansel said. “Our sales associates can also be called ‘tour guides’ and ‘concierges.’ Our commitment to customer service keeps our shoppers coming back year after year.”
With a large selection of gourmet food, cookware items and cookbooks and artwork by local artisans, this shop reflects the great role that the Cajun kitchen plays in New Orleans’ day-to-day culture, and customer service that demonstrates that classic Southern charm.
“We want every shopper to have the ability to wine and dine New Orleans style in their own home,” Spansel said. “We are always happy to answer questions and tell you about ‘how our momma makes it!’”
- Best-Sellers: Aunt Sally’s pralines, Abdallah Chocolates
- Kitchen Items: “The Best of New Orleans Cookbook” from HarperCollins Publishers
- Home Décor: Magnolia Lane’s South Platter
- Accessory: Jessie Steele aprons
- Gourmet Item: Roux Royale’s gourmet pecans, produced in-house
Branch Out | www.branchoutshop.com
Lauren Beshel Campbell and Thiri DeVoe, co-owners
Branch Out has been located in the Crescent City’s Lower Garden District for six years and counting, providing customers with local, eco-friendly and fair trade gift items to chose from.
“Over the years, we have really grown into our niche and now everything in our store falls into a certain category of locally made, vintage, eco-friendly, fair trade or made in the United States,” said Lauren Beshel Campbell, who co-owns Branch Out with Thiri DeVoe. “It’s important for us to carry local artists because it really helps to strengthen the community and helps us offer our customers some(thing) unique and different.”
With a strong eco- and community-conscious selection, Branch Out has a large emphasis on design and style that customers would have a difficult time finding outside of New Orleans.
“It’s so much fun to be able to help customers discover something new,” Beshel Campbell said. “We consider our locally made gifts and products to be some of the most special, but each item really does have a story.”
- Best-Sellers: Locally made New Orleans-themed soaps by Sweet Olive Soap Works and Branch Out-branded candles and T-shirts
- Greeting Cards: Sanctuary Spring fair trade cards
- Scents: St. Charles Ave., King Cake, Magnolia and Absinthe soaps and candles by Sweet Olive Soap Works and Branch Out
- Accessory: Locally made jewelry by Avilla and Port Street, vintage jewelry and Alchemy Goods’ men’s wallets made out of recycled rubber from bike inner tubes
Aux Belles Choses | www.abcneworleans.com
Bettye Barrios, owner
Located in the famous uptown shopping district on Magazine Street, Aux Belle Choses specializes in handcrafted European goods and gifts that are difficult to find unless you’re strolling the narrow brick streets of Europe.
“My sister and I started the shop in 1991 because we loved traveling and shopping in Europe,” Bettye Barrios said. “We had no more space in our houses for all we wanted to buy, so we opened the shop to share our finds with others.”
Barrios’ shop is dedicated to providing a relaxed shopping atmosphere with personal service and one-of-a-kind rarities not offered by larger gift shops.
With a mix of both new and vintage selections, Aux Belles Choses has an air of sophistication and old-world charm. “The love of a beautiful home is what our customers have in common,” Barrios said.
- Best-Seller: La Lavande soaps
- Kitchen Item: Coucke kitchen towels
- Scent for Soaps and Perfumes: Lavender, always
- Home Décor: Vintage silver serving pieces, such as fish servers, bread forks, tea knives, sugar sifters, purchased at European antique markets
- Diver: The porcelain Nativity figures imported from France
The Mask Factory | www.maskfactory515.com
Sajjad Malik and Irshad Malik, co-owners
There are many items sacred and specific to the Crescent City spirit. Mardi Gras beads, masks and voodoo dolls are just a few that capture the cultural essence and exuberance of the city.
The family-owned and -operated Mask Factory in the city center on Decatur Street offers these products, many locally produced like their artist-signed porcelain masks and handmade voodoo dolls. But what isn’t up for sale is the inspiring sense of love and support for the community that this business puts into practice.
“Unfortunately, after Hurricane Katrina many artists were displaced, their houses and studios were destroyed, or they simply couldn’t maintain the expense of keeping their business open,” explained Irshad Malik. “It was important for my husband and I to support those artists that were affected by showcasing this diminishing art form. In the hardest of times, it helped us push through and maintain a sense of local pride. By helping them, we helped ourselves cope.”
- Best-Seller: Feather masks, voodoo dolls, boas and feather hats
- Best-Selling Occasions: Mardi Gras, Halloween, New Year’s and the Sugar Bowl
- Carnival Masks: The long-nosed Venetian masks, large Jester masks and feather masks on a stick
- Halloween Masks: Phantom of the Opera, V for Vendetta and feather masks
- Accessories: Feather boas, wigs, tutus, beaded Cleopatra headdress and printed leggings
North Carolina’s capital city is located in the heart of the state’s Research Triangle and boasts a vibrant social, sports, cultural and arts scene. Along with an increase in culinary offerings, retail is alive and growing in the Raleigh area. Boasting 11 major shopping areas, the region is a mix of independent stores and major chains. Continue Reading »