Tyger Gifts closing after 31 years

Metairie store an icon for New Orleans-area LSU fans

In June 1991, I couldn’t wait for Tyger Gifts to open after LSU won their first College World Series. I knew they – and as it turned out every other Tiger fan in the region who was queued up at their door – would be the place in town to get championship memorabilia as soon as possible. The LSU, and then Saints, themed gift shop in Metairie has been an outpost local fans have counted on for three decades to get their apparel, memorabilia and gifts. As more and more championships piled up for local teams, more and more trips were made to the store. But whispers began this week that after more than 31 years in business Tyger Gifts is closing shop. By weeks end the whispers have grown into a roar, as fans of local teams and the store itself are rushing in to capitalize on great deals and reminisce about shopping in the store during glory days gone by.

 “The response has been tremendous,” storeowner Susan Bankston said. “As far as business, we’re getting wiped out. People are coming in telling us how much they’re going to miss us, that we’re an institution, their go to store. It’s been so heart warming and heart breaking at the same time.”

Although the decision to close the store seems abrupt, Bankston said she has thought about a career change for several years and finally had enough with operating a retail establishment.

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“I’m ready for a life change, a different career,” she said. “Retail can be very rewarding with the customers and repeat customers you meet. But it’s taxing. I’m tired of the routine with the back office – the sales shows and constant appointments with sales reps. I’m ready for a change.”

Bankston said she is closing Tyger Gifts at the end of March to explore opportunities in real estate and other areas. She slashed all inventory by 50 percent in order to move it quickly and is offering framed prints, coke bottles and pennants from the store’s collection for sale.

“When I made the decision it was like, ‘I’m done.’ I didn’t want to give what it takes to stay in another year or two, to put it on the market, sell it and stay on as a consultant to the new owner.

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“My mom, who started the business, backed me on the decision. She said, ‘It’s yours. Do what you want.

“That was a relief. So we’re shooting for the end of March. But honestly, with the way business is going we may not have enough inventory to last that long.”

After enrolling at and obtaining three degrees from Ole Miss, my trips to Tyger Gifts were understandably less frequent as they were in my prep days. However hearing about the store’s closing has made this Rebel nostalgic for the days of late 80s and early 90s when I, too, bled purple and gold. Tyger Gifts will be missed. Best of luck, Susan.

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