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French Quarter businesses hope for more local shoppers

New Orleans -- It's a sign the official start of the holiday season nears. Saturday night, crews flipped the switch on the giant Christmas tree that sits across from Jackson Square. Thousands of people packed into the quarter to watch the lighting and participate in an event that helps support local businesses called "Shop Away in the Vieux Carre".

Robin Reynolds is the proud owner of a spice and tea company in the French Quarter. She explains, "Everything that we have is really fresh so it's pretty hard to find the stuff that we have anywhere else in town."

Reynolds says her customer base is a mix of tourists and locals but the French Quarter Business Association is making a major push to get more residents to the quarter.

"Shop Away in the Vieux Carre" Saturday offered people the chance to be ferried around for free in pedicabs to various stores around the quarter, each offering something different. "We either have samples or discounts or gift wrapping," explained Reynolds.

The event brought Breaux Bridge native Joanne Quibido and her family to the city a day ahead of their scheduled trip for the Saints game. "We're season ticket holders so we come to every home game that we can and we help out the economy by supporting our dollars over here," said Quibido.

David Noonan adds, "You can find almost anything you want and some very high quality things. I just purchased, for a silver collection, antique silver napkin rings, you can't find them anywhere in the world, you can always find them here."

Shop owners and employees tell us people aren't afraid to spend their money this holiday season. In fact, at Razzle Dazzle on Royal Street, the stores been inundated with holiday requests. Sales associate says, "I've been getting phone calls back to back, ok I saw this in your store, can you ship this to us?".

It's a good sign for businesses, that sales may be high this holiday season. But while it's always nice to make money around the holidays, Robin Reynolds hopes events like Saturday's will bring more business to her shop, year round. She explains, "I live Uptown. It's hard to come down here, but it's so worth it. Keep us here!".

Reynolds says the French Quarter Business Association is thinking about hosting more events like "Shop Away in the Vieux Carre" at different times throughout the year, so that they're not just focusing on holiday shopping.

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