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Making Wishes

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Wish offers contemporary fashions at affordable prices. In post-Katrina New Orleans, Wish (306 Chartres St., 552-4301), which always had focused on tourists in the French Quarter, has changed its strategy to accommodate the needs of locals looking for affordable fashions and home accessories. In addition, Wish's parent company, American Apparel Concepts of Los Angeles, plans to open another Wish on Magazine Street to meet demands of Uptown customers and will reopen its men's store, Duo, on Canal Street this week. The company also operates Fabrik, a women's contemporary apparel store in the French Quarter for women who are a little older than those who shop at Wish.

"We've had to rethink all our concepts in New Orleans since the storm," says American Apparel Director of Operations William Shoemaker. "We are switching the merchandise mix up to fit the new New Orleans. Our business in the Quarter has always been 70 percent tourist and 30 percent local. Now it's 40 percent tourists and 60 percent locals."

Part of the regrouping will include adding footwear to the Wish store on March 1 and stocking housewares such as candles and pillows for locals who lost those things in the storm.

The basic concept behind Wish is providing fashion-forward apparel and home accessories for under $40, Shoemaker says. To help New Orleanians restock their wardrobes, the store currently is offering $10 off every $50 spent in the store.

"We're very dedicated to the New Orleans market," Shoemaker says. "We're all very emotionally attached to New Orleans. The people there are wonderful ... and we want to help the city come back."

Fine and Funky

A Michigan couple fascinated with New Orleans has opened Hoi Polloi (434 Chartres St., 561-7585; www.hoipolloiboutique.com), is a new upscale women's boutique in the French Quarter that carries fashion accessories, baby items, cosmetics and home decorating items.

The store originally was scheduled to open Sept. 1, but was delayed three months by Hurricane Katrina, says store manager April Bowman.

The name is Greek for "the masses," and the concept includes "fine and funky accessories," she says. Shoppers will find clothes for babies up to a year old, Maven cosmetics, a few women's suits, specialty handbags, jewelry, hats and "gifts for the woman who has everything and wants something a little funky and unusual in her home to surprise her guests."

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