Early Mardi Gras could potentially hurt Baton Rouge businesses

Early Mardi Gras could potentially hurt Baton Rouge businesses
Employees at Gambino's Bakery prepare several different king cakes to be made each day of the Mardi Gras season. (Source: WAFB)
Employees at Gambino's Bakery prepare several different king cakes to be made each day of the Mardi Gras season. (Source: WAFB)
Employees at Gambino's Bakery adding colorful sugar to the top of a king cake. (Source: WAFB)
Employees at Gambino's Bakery adding colorful sugar to the top of a king cake. (Source: WAFB)
A finished king cake from Gambino's Bakery. (Source: WAFB)
A finished king cake from Gambino's Bakery. (Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - This year, there's not much time to breathe between Christmas and Mardi Gras. In fact, the first parade rolls in New Orleans Wednesday. With Fat Tuesday rolling around much earlier this year, will that affect business for places that sell king cakes and parade throws?

Tis the season for mixing, cutting and kneading dough.

"We're going to make like 500 today," said Gambino's Bakery Manager Angela St. Romain.

Monday was the first day Gambino's Bakery made king cakes for the 2016 Mardi Gras season.

St. Romain said she hired eight additional workers to help in the king cake production. But this year, Mardi Gras is earlier than in years past with it landing on February 9. So does it impact business?

"It does a little bit but not as much as you would think," said St. Romain.

She said that's because when it's a longer season, people are excited in the beginning. However, there's a lull after about three weeks and then business picks back up towards Mardi Gras itself. This time though, she said there just won't be any down time.

"What happens now is we're still going to make close to 25,000 to 30,000 king cakes just in a compressed period of time," said St. Romain.

Adding that there are not many big occasions or weddings coming off Christmas, so fortunately it's king cake sales bakeries rely on to kick off the year. The same goes for the business Parties Start Here on Valley Street in Baton Rouge.

"It progressively gets busier every day from the day after Christmas through Mardi Gras day," said Parties Start Here owner Nelson Maddox.

Maddox said an earlier Mardi Gras can decrease sales, but only when it comes to decorations like wreaths, ribbons and other decorative items. He said usually he sells hundreds of wreaths right after the new year. This year, he projects selling around 50.

"It slows down dramatically just because of the short sale. Next year, Mardi Gras will fall on February 28 and we'll go back to record numbers of decorations," said Maddox.

Maddox said while decoration sales will take a slight hit, he said the riders for all parades across south Louisiana are still coming and buying all the throws shelling out the $500, $1,000 or even $5,000 per rider.

Not to mention, a shorter Mardi Gras means more time for people to prepare for the green sea in March.

"They'll decorate more heavily for the St. Patrick's Day this year than they will for Mardi Gras," said Maddox.

So ready or not, laissez les bon temps roulez.

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