NOLA Paint and Supplies (2900 Elysian Fields Ave. Unit A, 504-948-9620; www.nolapaintandsupplies.com) is a family-owned company offering interior, exterior and industrial paints, as well as paint applicators, brushes and rollers. The store is located in a strip mall by Interstate 610, next to a Waffle House. Inside, an eclectic assortment of framed art hangs on the brightly hued walls. An affectionate gray-and-white rescue cat named J.J. wanders around while owner Will Watts speaks with customers.
"Most people come in here not knowing what they want," Watts says. "I always ask questions and help them get exactly what they need."
Although NOLA Paint and Supplies is the company's official name, its storefront reads "Farrell-Calhoun Paint" because that line of paint is its main product.
"Farrell-Calhoun is one of the few family-owned paint manufacturers that hasn't been bought out by the big commercial guys," Watts says, adding that this durable paint provides good coverage and works well in humid weather conditions.
Farrell-Calhoun's eco-friendly "Green Leaf" products have fewer Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which means fewer harmful emissions. Watts also prefers this type of paint because he is familiar with it.
"This is the paint I grew up with," says Watts, who originally is from Memphis, Tennessee, where he worked as a contractor for residential buildings. His father also was a contractor and a fan of Farrell-Calhoun paint. When the housing market collapsed in 2008, Watts second-guessed his career choice and considered going into the paint retail business.
"I was able to stay afloat and I had a good clientele, but it gave me an opportunity to jump ship and try something else," he says.
He felt that New Orleans would be a good place to pursue such a venture, since the city lacked a Farrell-Calhoun dealer. He took a leap of faith, moved to the Crescent City and opened NOLA Paint and Supplies in 2011.
Business has flourished. Vivid paint colors (even for exteriors) are the most popular products. In addition to providing local construction groups with painting materials, Watts works with film and television crews who need special scenic supplies. His involvement with Hollywood South began when he met someone who was part of the American Horror Story production crew nearly four years ago. Now NOLA Paint and Supplies works with several filming studios.
Although painting projects slow down during cold winter months, they pick up speed once the warmer temperatures arrive. But an uptick in business isn't the only reason Watts is thinking ahead: A second NOLA Paint and Supplies store is in the works and Watts plans to open it in 2016.