June 5, 2002 - Bayou Country Store "Not Just a Tacky Souvenir Shop"

A love for all things Louisiana and a passion for retail are keys to success for one baton rouge couple. They have opened a very popular store at Jax Brewery in New Orleans.

Salesperson Denise Ott is showing a tiny bottle of liquid fire to a customer from New Jersey. "This is just the oil of the pepper," she explains, "and you would touch a toothpick in it to two pounds of beans."

You want it hot? Denise will guide you through the Wall of Flame.

"People can buy a lot of hot sauces nationwide," she tells the customer. "This you cannot. It's only found here."

The Bayou Country Store is not your typical sleazy souvenir shop. Even folks from Louisiana like to shop here for everything from hot sauce to some of the finest pralines you ever put in your mouth. They don't have a mission statement on the wall. The walls are their mission statement. They want to promote anything and everything Louisiana -- with very few exceptions.

Denise Ott: "We try not to have Louisiana politics." Anything else is fair game -- alligator to zydeco. "We have people, I call them real believers, nationwide who shop with us -- not only online, but they come into our store or call us because they use all of our seasoning products, our cookbooks. They give gifts at Christmas time, very much so."

Bayou Country Store in the brain child of a Baton Rouge couple, Al Blue and Chris Curran. It is on the third floor of the Jax Brewery. Their website is: <http://www.bayoucountry.com/>