When customers pass under the spearmint- and white-striped awning at Haase's Shoes and Young Folks Shop (8119 Oak St., 504-866-9944; www.haases.com), the story is always the same. "Every day, we hear people say, 'I used to come here when I was little,'" says owner Judy Caliva. "This store is a New Orleans institution."
Founded in 1921 by Russian immigrant Boris Conrad Haase, the emporium has remained a children's apparel store for generations. The oldest of 10 children, Haase worked in a shoe store on Magazine Street before spotting the Oak Street house that would become his family's shop. He lived upstairs with his wife, Della Olga Haase, while running the boutique below.
Today, the shop is still owned and operated by the Haase family. Husband and wife Kevin Haase Caliva and Judy Caliva uphold the store's reputation for customer service.
Haase's cultivates a nostalgic ambience with vintage finds. A restored 1930s Buster Brown balloon machine greets customers. Retro NFL pennants for now nonexistent teams such as the Los Angeles Rams, Houston Oilers and Baltimore Colts line the walls.
The store's classic pieces are its bestsellers. Feltman Brothers dresses and day gowns have flown off the shelves for years. The clothing line is comprised of delicately detailed, hand-embroidered pieces from the Philippines.
"These have that old-fashioned look and are often passed down for generations," Caliva says.
Other timeless favorites include high-top leather booties, brightly hued canvas Keds, sailor dresses and cozy coats. "When the cold snap comes, there will be so many people coming in to buy sweaters and coats," Caliva says.
The store's window display reveals a supply of Great Pretenders costume dresses, some resembling the icy blue gown and shimmering cape worn by Elsa in Frozen. Assembled by Nicole Koster and Megan Stieber, the window display exemplifies the secret of Haase's success: a balance of work and play. `