For 55 years, locals have been shopping at Gentry (6047 Magazine St., 899-4223), and though the store's location and the focus of its merchandise have changed over the years, its commitment to convenience and personal service hasn't. Opened on Carrollton Avenue in 1952 as a men's clothing store, Gentry later relocated to Uptown Square, where it eventually phased out of men's apparel and expanded its inventory of decorative accessories, housewares and gifts. Three years ago, the store moved to its current Uptown address on bustling Magazine Street.
Gentry is known for its selection of kitchen items (the Filtron cold-drip coffee maker and The Brisker, a bread-box sized container that keeps foods crisp, are perpetual favorites), oven-to-table wares, bar accessories, serving pieces by such recognizable names as Michael Aram, Nambe, Beatrice Ball and Annie Glass; travel accessories, clocks, baby gifts, bath accoutrements, stationary products and more. These days, it also is known for comfort shoes by quality names like MBT, Dansco, Keen, Chaco, Teva, Merrell, Naot and Crocs; and women's handbags by Hobo, Jon Hart, Mary Frances and Vera Bradley. The diverse mix covers a range of price points and makes Gentry especially popular for wedding, graduation and Christmas gifts.
"We are a local tradition," says Marilyn Kullman, who owns and runs the business with her husband Paul, daughter Lisa and sister Phyllis. "People come to us for service and also know we have a wide variety of prices."
Special offerings include a bridal registry, monogramming, 10 percent off all footwear used for work, and a semiannual shoe sale in January and July that discounts all footwear purchases by 15 percent.
Since moving to its Magazine Street location, formerly home to Sam's Convenient Store, Gentry has become known as a destination for a favorite New Orleans refreshment -- the Icee -- as well.
"When word got out that we were moving here, we started getting phone calls saying, 'You have to keep the Icee machine,'" says Marilyn. "We were hesitant about it, but it has been a delight. It's great to watch the little kids with money clutched in their hands, and they can hardly see over the counter to ask for the kind of Icee they want. The other day, a customer's child saw me and called me the Icee lady."
- Gifts, comfort shoes, personal service and even Icees are on tap at Gentry.