For 30 years, a mother-daughter duo at MJ's (1513 Metairie Road, Metairie, 504-835-6099; www.mjsofmetairie.com) has offered reasonably priced cups, shirts, flags, bath and home goods with Louisiana flavor. At the newly expanded shop, an upbeat New Orleans soundtrack plays while shoppers traverse the islands of goods.
"We know many [customers] by name," says owner Judy Guhman, who works alongside her daughter Stacey Kerry. "[There are] multiple generations. ... People who have left town or are returning from the airport to pick up friends stop here to shop before heading to their final destination."
The store boasts an abundance of flags, door hangers and clothes featuring MJ's custom designs, like their current hit, "There is Nothing a King Cake Can't Fix."
"Since we design most of our own inventory, we always try to keep it new and fresh and retire the old and bring in the new," Kerry says.
MJ's trademarked lines include the NOLA Street Tile Collection and the new Initials Street Tile Collection, which are charms for necklaces or bracelets. These popular designs "fly off the shelves," says Kerry, who manages the store's social media. "Especially if I post it on Facebook," Kerry says. "We try our best to order the items fast enough to keep enough in stock to meet the demand."
Guhman is proud of the store's recent growth and the legacy she built over 30 years, which she will pass on to her daughter. "The commitment and hard work is very rewarding, and having this location nearly double in size this past year is great for both our business and our customers," says Guhman, who oversaw the expansion.
A bigger store means more inventory, but even though the square footage nearly doubled in size, lines were still out the door on a recent Saturday, when cashiers staffed four registers. By noon, there was extra staff on hand to help customers navigate rows of home and bath items. The store changes inventory with the season, moving from football to Mardi Gras onto St. Patrick's Day and beyond. (LSU flags are available year-round.)
"We cater to the locals," Guhmans says. "Thirty years is an amazing milestone, and although it's not always easy, we attribute much of this success to our longstanding commitment to providing exciting, custom Louisiana flair at an affordable price. Once found, the secret is out."