By Denise L., Buffalo Exchange New Orleans
We’re celebrating our 10 year anniversary this Saturday, May 9 from 11am–7pm!
Close your eyes for a moment and flash back to May 2005. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston had just announced their separation, Britney Spears was married to Kevin Federline, and the radio was blasting “Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani and “Soldier” by Destiny’s Child. Hot movies at the box office were Kung Fu Hustle, Sahara, and Sin City. On television Lost was ending its first season and Family Guy was beginning its broadcast. Carrie Underwood won the fourth season of American Idol and Tom Cruise was proclaiming his love for Katie Holmes on Opera’s couch. In fashion camisoles were popular embellished with sequins or layered under tees, flared low rise jeans, boho skirts, and knit gauchos were all over the streets. For men, Ed Hardy tees and super skinny jeans were all the rage.
On May 7, 2005 Buffalo Exchange NOLA opened its doors at 11am to a crowd of locals and tourists. Our store had a shining first weekend. The response to Buffalo Exchange’s opening was positive and local shoppers were excited to have us in the neighborhood. Customers often commented that the cool red chairs looked terrific with our yellow and red walls.
Throughout the summer months we moved slowly forward, hiring a few more staff members, being trained by various long term company employees, and finding success in the interesting inventory that was coming in across the counter.
On August 27 a hurricane named Katrina entered the Gulf of Mexico and was intensifying and traveling quickly. Late in the day, the staff boarded up the windows, secured the store to the best of their abilities, and some left New Orleans traveling to Texas together. Within days, the word of flood and devastation in New Orleans came through. After two trips to repair damages done during Katrina; we reopened our doors on Halloween 2005.
In those early days of refrigerators lining the streets of the Garden District and The National Guard rolling through to enforce the 6pm curfew, Buffalo Exchange seemed to be more of a therapy for the locals than for purposes of buying and selling clothing.
As word spread that the “Isle of Denial” (as Magazine Street was often referred to in those early days) was open for business, people came to shop/sell from the immediate neighborhoods: the Irish Channel, The Touro area, Central City, and the Garden District. Then many customer began coming from further stretching areas like the Riverbend, Carrollton, The Marigny, and French Quarter. By the start of 2006 our store was seeing larger financial successes, generating a buzz within the community, and remaining open later than other stores on the street would even consider. Since a lot of the inventory available was damaged or destroyed during Katrina, much of what was coming across the counter was clothing that people bought or received while on their Hurrication.
As Buffalo Exchange NOLA grew, so did the city. Neighborhoods came back, some stronger than in pre-Katrina days. Many church organizations came to volunteer in the two to three years following Katrina. College students were taking trips to volunteer and the term ‘Voluntourism’ seemed to come alive.
Many people discovered our store on Magazine Street while they attended classes at the nearby universities or visiting on vacation. We were also being discovered by referral or by shoppers looking for that one-of-a-kind Mardi Gras costume or Red Dress for the annual run.
Through the years our store has stretched its bounds of space, especially during Halloween and Mardi Gras. We entertain regular sellers with our silly buy counter games and keep clothing racks alive with items that make people smile.
Here we are 10 years later, celebrating our style, our diversity, our city, and most importantly our customers. All of which have grown with us over this wonderful learning experience that was the last 10 years.
Join us this Saturday, May 9 as we celebrate 10 years on Magazine Street!