Mardi Gras stores ready for shoppers after making early preps

Carnival season kicks off in Baton Rouge

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - If the pallets of beads and an endless supply of specialty items inside Parties Start Here didn’t give it away, it’s officially Carnival season.

Almost half of the party store located on Valley Street in Baton Rouge is filled with leopard masks and knick knacks soft enough to toss.

“When you’re up there in the parade and trying to throw stuff, you don’t know where it’s going to go,” said Nelson Maddox, store owner.

Both store owners say because Chinese tariffs were delayed, the price of beads did not increase.
Both store owners say because Chinese tariffs were delayed, the price of beads did not increase. (Source: WAFB)

Thankfully, Maddox knows where the Mardi Gras shoppers go. He says they follow the price tag.

“Mardi Gras is an expensive habit,” Maddox added.

He says the reasonable prices keep the shoppers coming back, but a tariff ordered by President Donald Trump briefly scared the Carnival market. The good thing is the president didn’t follow through with the threat, so customers didn’t see an increase at the register.

Maddox says shoppers can sometimes spend thousands on Mardi Gras decorations.

Over on the other side of town, Party Paradise on Drusilla Lane has an entire bead wall dedicated to the Tigers. Owner, Debra Fournet, says she has to order beads and decorations about nine months in advance. That means Fournet has to predict what folks will want, like a fleur de lis covered in Tiger stripes.

“You just have to take it on a wish and a prayer that that’s going to sell,” she added.

However, that’s a task Fournet is up for with 35 years in the business under her belt. But there’s a somewhat somber feeling about this season.

“I look at catalogs and realize I’ll never be ordering anything again," she said.

This is Fournet’s last go round with the beads. She’s calling it quits and she can’t quite describe the feeling.

Owner of Party Paradise, Debra Fournet, says she orders specialty beads and throws nine months in advance.
Owner of Party Paradise, Debra Fournet, says she orders specialty beads and throws nine months in advance. (Source: WAFB)

Either way, the Mardi Gras craze has started and she’ll at the store at least until April to see people through the season.

“If somebody at the last-minute needs more beads, we got them,” she said.

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