Having spent years in retail, Kim Brandt Burr knew what she wanted when she and her husband Doug opened their store: unique Louisiana-centric gifts, decor items and products by local craftsmen with an emphasis on customer service. At NOLA Gifts & Decor (5101 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie, 504-407-3532; www.nolagiftsanddecor.com), she's done all of the above.
"I've tried to take a little of everything I've learned at every place I've worked," says Burr, who celebrated a year in business Nov. 1. "Customer service is more important than anything. I like to treat customers as I like to shop."
For Burr, exceptional customer service means always acknowledging customers and offering assistance without being overbearing. It also means providing useful products and instruction. NOLA Gifts sells Chalk Paints by Annie Sloan and offers classes for people who want hands-on experience with the popular paints.
"Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan can be used quickly and easily to refinish furniture with little prep work," Burr says.
According to Burr, her small boutique attracts customers who don't want to fight malls or go to big box stores — a selling point that carries more weight during the high-traffic holiday season. Despite its small footprint, NOLA Gifts offers customers plenty of choices.
"We have things all the way from baptism to retirement," Burr says. "People can pretty much one-stop shop."
Custom gift sets and baskets are a specialty. During the holidays, Burr pre-wraps items with prices starting at about $6 for a tidbit tray with spreader (great for co-workers, Burr says), and up to $50. She and her staff also make them per customer request and budget. The store offers shipping and complimentary gift wrapping. Burr posts daily to both Facebook and Instagram sharing photos of the store's inventory.
"It's a good way to see what's new and what's trending," she says.
The store also carries New Orleans Saints and LSU T-shirts by local designers, hand-painted dishes made of oyster shells edged with gold and mounted on tiny pearl feet, acrylic barware, wooden wall art by NOLA Recycled, metal "Oyster Bed" dishes that are freezer-, oven- and grill-safe, trendy costume jewelry, pet wares, baby gifts, fashion accessories such as totes, scarves and hats, handmade Christmas ornaments, Benny Grunch & the Bunch Christmas CDs, the Elf On The Shelf (plus elf pets, accessories and clothing), inspirational jewelry including St. Benedict bracelets and crosses, wedding gifts, frames and more.
"The store is only 1,000 square feet, but we use every possible inch," Burr says. "We like to say that we fit New Orleans into Algiers."