T-Mae Booth, serving a customer at Booth's Grocery
Grand Chenier, La. -
When you drive along Highway 82 in Grand Chenier, you see a mixture of pastures and marsh, a few homes and camps, and then there is Booth's Grocery.
The first store was built in the late 1950's after deadly Hurricane Audrey wiped out coastal Cameron Parish.
Owner T-Mae Booth says, "We just decided we wanted to build a store, and we did pretty good so we just stayed."
Booth has been behind the counter of her store for 55 years. You find coolers of beer and soft drinks, and the kind of stuff you need for a road trip or a day of fishing.
There was another hurricane here nearly eight years ago. Hurricane Rita destroyed the grocery.
Booth says, "There wasn't much left on Grand Chenier after Rita finished. She took everything that I ever owned but I decided to build on, build again."
T-Mae rebuilt because she likes people. Locals call her the mayor of Grand Chenier.
Her son Earl Booth says, "It's because everybody thinks she knows everything that's going on."
And at age 85, T-Mae is still at work seven days a week.
Earl Booth says, "I think this store is keeping her alive. I always wanted her to open it back up after it was destroyed because she needs to do that."
A funny thing happened a few years ago. Booth's Grocery was discovered on the Internet, thanks to a prankster with an exaggerated Cajun accent who videotaped a spoof of his OnStar navigator.
"I'm looking for Crystal Clear Lake Drive," the prankster says on a YouTube video. "They got a trout line, right past Barry's trout line by T-Bok's camp. We was looking for that little spot right there… they got a store that we passed by. It's called Boot's. Boot's. B-o-o-t-h comma-to-the-top s, Boot's."
Booth says, "B-o-o-t-h comma-to-the-top s. And I thought it was very funny."
More than 1 million people around the world have now watched that YouYube video. Booth says, "When that happened I have never seen so many people taking pictures of the store."
T-Mae Booth the businesswoman couldn't pass up an opportunity. She now sells t-shirts of her grocery that carefully spell out the name -- with the comma to the top.
How many stores do you know that have one of a guest book where customers sign in? People from all over the world have signed their names as they stop at Booth's Grocery.
Booth says, "One guy said, ‘Did you ever meet the guy that did that, the video?' I said no. He says, ‘Here I am!' Oh that's good. I said, I gotta take a picture with you!"
If you are ever in this remote corner of Louisiana, you know you can stop at Booth's, and you can exchange a story and a smile with T-Mae.
Booth's Grocery is in Grand Chenier near the east entrance to the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge. It's one of the few stores in the area.
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