When the New Orleans Saints organization sought a name for its arena football team in 2002, an online poll of residents came up with “New Orleans VooDoo.” The choice isn’t surprising; Voodoo, a religion brought to the city by African slaves hundreds of years ago, has so permeated the city that references to it have […]
A benefit of living in a cultural preservationist city like New Orleans is that there are many organizations that work to keep cultural activities alive and accessible. Here is a list comprising some of New Orleans’ summer fêtes. Many activities are free of charge, but those that aren’t cost less than $10! Ongoing Events Thursdays […]
Few words carry more pride with them than “This is my son.” Lucky indeed is the boy whose father mixes love and discipline in equal measure. A boy usually appreciates his father most when he becomes one. Then he joins that society of men called “Dad,” who quietly dedicate their lives to taking care of their families. Here is a look at some local fathers and the sons who take a lot of pride in one another.
After absinthe was made illegal, just before World War I, which was followed by Prohibition, then the Great Depression, then the repeal of Prohibition; finally there was a moment that seemed to be a perfect time for a legal anise-flavored liquor. Up stepped a couple of New Orleans boys, J.M. Legendre and Reginald Parker, who […]
49Games won by LSU’s Baseball Team in the 2007-’08 season. 14Number of New Orleans Hornets players, 2008-’09 season. 28:6Wins to losses of the 2008 C-USA Champion Tulane Volleyball team. 1979-82Years Leonard Marshall played defensive end for LSU. 2025The year until which the Saints have agreed to play in Louisiana. 1985Year Louisiana native Karl “The Mailman” […]
Beaches of BlissFifteen beach communities comprise the Beaches of South Walton, a convenient vacation spot for New Orleanians. Just west of Panama City, Fla., the Beaches of South Walton offer homes and accommodations – condos, quaint cottages, bed-and-breakfasts and rental homes – for the array of guests. Resort communities, including Sandestin, WaterColor and Seaside present […]
Satisfying hunger at House of BluesWhile House of Blues is certainly known more for the variety of concerts that take place therein, music-lovers can also now indulge in fine cuisine. Mark Roberts, who’s a marketer for the Decatur Street location, says that the food is “Southern-inspired cuisine” by executive chef Irving Karas. This encompasses a […]
“A clown is like aspirin, only he works twice as fast!”– Groucho Marx After spending a few minutes with Richard and Sally Simoneaux, you come away with the feeling that New Orleans’ only husband-and-wife clown team has front-row viewing seats on the human condition. Richard is a retired auto technician, whose “real” job is as […]
Last year, the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation and Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu partnered in starting a health care program to help cultural (music, film, literary and historic preservation, and culinary, performing and visual arts) workers access affordable medical care. Through the Louisiana Cultural Economy Healthcare Initiative, cultural workers can visit a participating doctor or dentist […]
To the list of unwelcome and long-lingering Hurricane Katrina legacies, researchers from Tulane University School of Medicine have added another that hits particularly close to home: heart attacks. Tulane medical researchers have documented a threefold increase in the number of people suffering heart attacks in the metro area in the years after Katrina compared to […]
This band started out at as the “love-child” of two couples, Michael Stephens and Aubre Bauer, and Brittney Maddox and John Martin. The group added an electric bass (Jordan West) and drums (Jeremy Hayes) to the mix and the double-couple became the Peekers, who just released their sophomore album, Life in the Air. The album […]
The title of the CD to my left this morning is quite a run-on, but in the interest of accuracy here goes: Preservation Hall Jazz Band: New Orleans Preservations, Volume 1. If you don’t have enough preservation in your cultural food chain, this one delivers a feast. This is a superb recording of old songs […]
Thanks to new flight services set to begin next month, the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport will once again be international, or rather “internacional.” AeroMexico, the largest airline in Mexico, plans to start a new route between New Orleans and the company’s hub in Mexico City, with six nonstop flights per week and continuing […]
New Orleans hasn’t, until fairly recently, been the kind of place where you’d find “mixologists” behind the bar of your local watering hole. But now there are a couple of relatively new local joints where you can find inventive drinks prepared with care, and food to match. CURE (4905 Freret St.) is the most recent […]
Each year at Jazz Fest I’m reminded again of the beauty of Faubourg St. John. The logistical park-n-walk demands of the Fest allow me to view the neighborhood at a snail’s pace, rather than through a car window, and the experience is always rewarding. So this year after the Fest I took some time to […]
I don’t know who planted the first blueberry bush in Louisiana, but I sure would like to thank him. When I was growing up we had strawberries and wild blackberries but never blueberries unless they came in a can. And then, they were the tiny ones that I’m pretty sure were grown somewhere in New […]
There is more than coffee, breakfast and lunch going on at Liberty’s Kitchen, a new café located near the Orleans Parish Criminal Courthouse in Mid-City. The restaurant and caterer is also a nonprofit aimed at helping teens and young adults get their lives on track. Liberty’s Kitchen uses a combination of hands-on food service training, […]
My mother-in-law says the Gunches are taking an X-vacation this year. I got to think about that. X-rated? X-treme? That don’t sound like the Gunches. No, she says – X-tended family – her sons Lurch and Leech; her and her daughters Gloriosa and Larva; and their kids; and me, the widow of her son Lout […]
During an economic downturn, news reports can become mind-numbing recitations of statistics, ranging from rising unemployment rates to percentage declines in the GDP. But in the tangle of economic indicators, one stands out as the simplest and possibly most reliable: consumer spending.
When people stop reaching for their wallets and credit cards, it’s a clear sign of trouble in the economy. Similarly, when shoppers begin forking over cash for non-essential items, it often signals strength.
Retailers across the nation have used every trick in their playbooks to get consumers into stores in recent months. In a potentially good sign for the local area, New Orleans-area retailers have been fairly successful.
“Louisiana in general and our area in particular have been among the bright spots for many retailers around the country,” says Martin Mayer, president and CEO of Covington-based Stirling Properties, a real estate firm well-connected with many national retailers.
In contrast to states including Arizona, Florida and California, and cities like Las Vegas, where retailers are “just getting pummeled,” retail sales in the local area have been relatively strong, Mayer says.
Louisiana has benefited from a better supply-and-demand balance than retailers face in many other states. Because population growth has been slow here in recent decades and available commercial space has been limited, the local area hasn’t been at the top of expanding retailers’ location wish lists. Those factors now give New Orleans an advantage over markets that experienced rapid growth, Mayer says.
Big retailers, particularly those that are publicly owned companies, must continue to grow, even in a slow economy. Though many have sharply curtailed their expansion plans, they continue to shop for sites that can deliver new revenue. “Their sales have been down across the board, so any stores they open have to be home-run stores,” Mayer says.
Mayer believes in coming months retailers will begin to seize local opportunities created by troubles in some big chains. Circuit City, for instance, succumbed to bankruptcy and vacated several area stores last year. Household goods retailers Linens ’n Things also checked out, leaving behind several prime local spaces.
Just as Circuit City lost the battle to Best Buy, and Bed, Bath & Beyond bested Linens ’n Things, other categories where two or more big retailers compete will likely see fallout. Mayer says bookstores and office supply stores could be next. Barnes & Noble, Borders and Books-A-Million go head-to-head in the first category, and Office Depot faces Office Max and Staples in the latter. In those segments, Mayer says: “I don’t think all three are going to make it. Maybe even two won’t make it.”
Among the companies likely to snap up prime spaces that others vacate, discounters like Walmart and “value-oriented” retailers such as Dollar General, Family Dollar and T.J. Maxx predominate, Mayer says. Auto parts stores also are doing well as car owners opt to repair the old models rather than buy new, and these retailers could be scouting local sites.
In addition to the market’s relative consumer strength and the growing availability of prime spaces, the local area offers retailers another enticement: hungry landlords.
“If a landlord has debt on a property that’s coming up for maturity anytime soon, and he has to refinance, that’s a problem, because getting financing in this environment is very difficult,” Mayer says. “I don’t think in Louisiana we have as big a problem as some other states do, but in my opinion we haven’t seen the worst of it yet.” The financial pressure on landlords will produce still-better deals for retailers looking to enter the market, he says.
One sign of retail strength appeared here before the national economy officially went south, when Macy’s made its post-Hurricane Katrina return to the area. The company not only reopened its anchor store at Esplanade Mall but also built a large new store and parking garage at Lakeside Shopping Center. “It was a huge vote of confidence for our area for Macy’s to return and expand,” Mayer says.
In addition, promising news emerged recently from New Orleans Saints football team owner Tom Benson. As he negotiated with the state over extending the Saints’ contract at the Louisiana Superdome, Benson announced plans to buy the next-door Dominion Tower office building and former shopping mall New Orleans Centre, and redevelop the area into a sports entertainment center.
“From a real estate perspective, that type of development is excellent for the city,” Mayer says. “There needs to be a complete redevelopment of that area around the Dome. This could be the catalyst to make it finally happen.”
The condition of area shopping malls is a good overall indicator of the health of local retail. Here’s how Mayer sizes up several local malls.
The Shops at Canal Place (downtown New Orleans). “I think they’re doing well. I think Saks (Fifth Avenue’s) sales are doing very well, and I believe they’ve considered expanding that store.”
Lakeside Shopping Center (Metairie). “It’s doing very well. The sales per-square-foot in that mall are probably the best in the state.”
Clearview Mall (Metairie). “I think tenants there are doing well. The mall was repositioned several years ago, with Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond coming in. It’s probably the highest-trafficked intersection (Clearview and Veterans Memorial boulevards) in the city. The tenant mix they have is different than Lakeside mall’s; it was designed to be more of a ‘power center’ with the (movie) theater upstairs. Clearview is doing well.”
Oakwood Shopping Center (Gretna). (The mall’s owner, Chicago-based General Growth Properties Inc., recently sought bankruptcy protection.) “The West Bank is strong. I think Oakwood is a good property with good retail sales that is owned by a distressed owner, and that’s the problem.
General Growth overextended themselves. It’s a successful mall that’s probably going to end up in somebody else’s hands.