“People have been great”: New Orleans retailers reopen for Phase One

Retail businesses open in New Orleans for Phase 1

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - New Orleanians are adjusting to the new normal after the city's stay-at-home order was lifted, Saturday. It marked day one of Phase One.

Posted certificates in their shop windows signify businesses are again, open.

"People have been great. They're happy to be out shopping and we're so happy to be open!" gushed Laura Hand, Owner of Miss Smarty Pants.

Hand says the day started in a lull but picked up around lunchtime.

“I was like, ‘okay, everybody is here!’ Everybody kind of came all at one time,” Hand explained.

Hand recently celebrated the Magazine shop’s 21st anniversary during the stay-at-home order. She credits a lot of her business to her loyal customers but also used social media to market her merchandise. Successful online sales aside, Hand and other small retailers say they were ready to get back to the customer service part of their job, safely.

“Everybody is being conscious, respecting everyone’s social distance and wearing a mask,” Hazelnut Owner Bryan Batt said.

Batt says if day one is any indication of what’s to come, he’s hopeful. Yet, retailers in the French Quarter say sales were slow.

“It was a step towards normalcy and we’re going to be open from now on,” said Bottom of the Cup Tea Room Owner Tom Mullen.

Mullen says regardless of the numbers, he’s glad to be back open. His grandmother founded the shop on Chartres the year the Great Depression hit.

“It’s a tradition, that’s for sure,” Mullen laughed.

Having faced its share of adversity over the past 90 years, Mullen says adapting is what New Orleanians do.

“Last year was a really good year for tourism and then this so, you just go with it,” he explained.

Considering the uncertainty of the city’s biggest industry, Mullen is looking to grow his customer base.

“We are here for the locals and we hope they come around because that’s what we need. That’s all we have,” Mullen said.

Per Orleans Parish rules, businesses re-opening during phase one are required to register their businesses through the state.

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