Shopping the State
Create a weekend getaway and enjoy the best holiday shopping in Louisiana for everyone on your gift list this season
Louisiana is an antique shoppers wonderland, so if you are one or have one on your list, options abound in every corner of the state — and the middle, too.
Shopping for the holidays in Louisiana is as unique as the state itself. Louisiana offers antique hotspots, galleries featuring local artists and artisans, and items from authentic craftspeople that range from Cajun and Creole culture to Native Americans. Take a weekend away and enjoy a shopping experience your recipients will appreciate — and so will the Louisiana residents who produced them.
Numerous antique shops are centered in the heart of Denham Springs outside Baton Rouge, the quaint village of Ponchatoula northwest of New Orleans and Acadiana’s Breaux Bridge, a stone’s throw from Lafayette. Growing in the last few years in West Monroe’s Cotton Port Historic District is “Antique Alley,” numerous blocks of antique shops, boutiques, specialty shops and restaurants.
There are several individual antique dealers, such as Memory Lane, which visits New England regularly for specialty items and deals in rare books, said Karen Laban, director of the West Monroe Antique Alley Merchants Association. On the other hand, Traditions on Trenton focuses on European fine antiques.
“Commerce Street Antiques sells a variety, from midcentury Modern to English antiques,” she added. “But many are antique malls, such as Cotton Port Antiques witm its 40-plus vendors.”
Visitors will want to make a weekend out of it, laying their heads at the Hamilton House Inn with its elegant guest rooms inside a historical building and enjoying a variety of restaurants within walking distance. In addition to antiques, the district features specialty shops, such as Laban’s The Spice & Tea Exchange of West Monroe, which sells 180 different spices and herbs, among many culinary items.
“We have everything for the kitchen,” Laban said.
Jennifer Casanova represents more than 300 Louisiana artists and artisans at her Louisiana Marketshops at the 115. The shop’s easy to spot off Interstate 10 at Henderson/Cecilia exit No. 115, its colorful façade and flags beckoning visitors. Inside the historic shotgun house is a lots of fun, from Louisiana culinary delights to alligator heads. Cajun and zydeco music are always playing and each room features something new and distinctive.
“Antiques and vintage items are used to make the displays more fun,” said Casanova, adding that visitors should carve out an hour or so to wander through the shop.
Casanova ships items worldwide for those needing a dose of Louisiana, a demand which appears to be growing.
“We are seeing a huge appreciation for locally made items,” she said. “People are choosing to invest in local items instead of buying art from a big box store or chain. The buyers are more aware and are making a conscious choice to shop local.”
The Louisiana Crafts Guild assembles artists and artisans for workshops, communication and promotion. They also sell their members’ wares at two galleries, the Sans Souci Fine Crafts Gallery in Lafayette, voted one of the best places to shop in the South by Southern Living Magazine, and La Guild in New Orleans, on the second floor of Canal Place. Both feature a variety of works from the Guild’s 250 members, everything from textiles to jewelry.
Another gallery that promotes and sells Louisiana artists is the Agora Borealis in Shreveport, housed in a 1927 building. In addition to the shop’s handmade items, many of which are upcycled, the Agora Borealis offers special events throughout the year.
Be sure to drop by artspace while in Shreveport, one of the state’s finest contemporary art galleries (even though it doesn’t like to be called one) and an art workshop venue. There’s always something rich happening here, so plan time to explore, but don’t miss artspace’s gift shop, filled with unique art pieces from local creators.
Other great spots to find authentic Louisiana items, many of which are handcrafted, plus Louisiana music and books include the gift shops of Vermilionville and Acadian Village in Lafayette. Several of the state’s world-class museums contain unique gift shops as well, such as the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Hilliard Art Museum in Lafayette and the Louisiana Art & Science Museum in Baton Rouge.