Fly Me to the Mall

Shopping experience at New Orleans airport looks to mix national and local brands

Airports figured out years ago that when human beings are bored they enjoy looking at pretty things and are more likely to ignore retail markup and make purchases. Humans also exhibit the same behavior while on vacation. Thus, shopping has become an important part of the user experience and revenue generator for airports.

On a recent round-trip that took me through both JFK and LaGuardia airports in New York City, I could have made purchases at Kiehl’s, Sunglass Hut, Tumi, Eddie Bauer, Hudson Books, Coach, Mac, Longchamp and, strangely enough, Victoria’s Secret. Not to mention the restaurants that are far beyond the old fast food options and services such as manicures, pedicures and massages.

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is using its build-out of the new billion-dollar North Terminal to increase its retail opportunities for travelers, and yesterday it selected the firms with which to do so.

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On Tuesday, a selection committee composed of airport and city officials chose two retail firms, Paradies Lagardere and Pacific Gateway. The firms beat out two other proposals and will move forward with plans for the two separate retail spaces within the new terminal.

Paradies Lagardere, an Atlanta-based firm, is the larger of the two and has a presence in 98 airports. Its proposal calls for a $5.1 million capital investment to build out stores that include the local, but internationally famous Tabasco, as well as a The New Orleans Advocate-branded newsstand, Brother’s Food Mart, Fleurty Girl and Nola Couture. Products from other local brands would be incorporated into the stock of the retail stores and those will include items from Dirty Coast Press, Aunt Sally’s Original Pralines and the artist Michalopoulos.

San Francisco-based Pacific Gateway is a smaller firm and will use its planned $6 million capital investment to feature more boutique NOLA stores, as well as a performance space. The proposed stores in their space will include boutique Hattie Sparks, Dirty Coast Press, Pulp and Grind and the standout collaboration with Preservation Hall, which will operate as a hybrid retail and performance space.

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The two firms competed and won against the omnipresent Hudson Group, headquartered in New Jersey and operating in 70 locations; and Nevada-based Marshall Retail Group, America’s largest, independent specialty retailer in casino-resorts and airports.

The new 35-gate North Terminal is now slated to open in February 2019, a delay from its earlier 2018 opening date, in order to accommodate updated plans for the expected increase in passenger volume.

 

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