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Purple Media Network

How Front Street businesses prepare for the Christmas Festival

As+Natchitoches+enters+the+festive+season%2C+Front+Street+businesses+prepare+for+the+influx+of+tourists+coming+into+town.
Madelyn Murphy
As Natchitoches enters the festive season, Front Street businesses prepare for the influx of tourists coming into town.

Walking along Natchitoches’ Front Street, the Christmas lights glimmer as businesses decorate for the upcoming holiday. They replace the pumpkins with snowmen, autumn leaves with lights and the scarecrows with Christmas trees. Each of these businesses play a part in making Christmas in Natchitoches special. However, the decorations are not all these businesses do to prepare for the holiday season.

“Christmas season is in the October, November, December time frame, and that is the busiest time of our year,” Rodney Boswell, owner of Christmas at Stella’s, said. “We will do almost as much during those three months as the other nine months combined.”

Christmas at Stella’s, located on 524 Front Street, sells Christmas decor and other merchandise. Although this store is stocked with everything Christmas all year around, the shop must prepare for a change of pace for businesses on Front Street as Christmas nears.

“To get ready to go into the Christmas season,” Boswell explains, “because tourism increases on the street and traffic increases on the street, we do work to expand our inventory so that we’ve got the pieces available when customers come through our doors, look around and shop.”

The demand increases for Christmas decor as the holiday season rolls around. Luckily, Christmas at Stella’s prepares for this increase. The other businesses on Front Street, not known for their Christmas merchandise, prepare for the Holiday season too.

Catherine Clary, the manager of Louisiana Lagniappe, said, “on a normal day, I’m able to run it with just one or two people, but on a Christmas Saturday, I’ll probably need about four or five people in here.”

Louisiana Lagniappe sells a variety of items from boutique clothing and other apparel to candles and gifts. With this, the tourists who add to the Natchitoches crowd during Christmas time will fill the store with customers, requiring more employees to be present. Although Louisiana Lagniappe has only been open for six weeks and has not experienced Christmas on Front Street, Clary’s knowledge and experience as a shop worker in Front Street will prepare them for the season.

“This is my fifth year on Front Street,” Clary said. “We have retail experience because we’re the sister store to Louisiana Purchase right down Front Street, so we’re just hoping the things that have been trending and popular throughout the year will be trending and popular during the Christmas season, too.”

As the festival attracts tourists, businesses adapt their schedules to engage customers.

Tina Rachal, the owner of Plantation Treasures, said, “To prepare for Christmas, we open early, we’re early to work and we work later in the day.”

Plantation Treasures is a gift shop which sells Home fragrances, t-shirts, candles, laundry, detergent, home decor and more. Even though their business hours do not change, Plantation Treasures’ staff work longer hours so they can keep their store organized, their items fully stocked and their customers happy.

“We’re wonderfully busy, but we love it,” Rachal said.

Rachal and other workers for Plantation Treasures welcome their customers with a kind greeting when they walk through the doors. The closer it gets to Christmas and the more customers who file in the store, the more Plantation Treasures workers love the job.

Rayna Treme, who has been an employee of Cane River Kitchenware for almost five years, said, “the customers have such good spirits which really helps the chaoticness.”

When the crowd of customers gets to where it feels like, as Treme described it, a rock concert where everyone is standing shoulder-to-shoulder, the Christmas-spirited customers usually let the employees make the most out of the chaotic environment. Cane River Kitchenware is prepared for the amount of customers that come their way each Christmas.

“We pretty much have to double up everything [to keep the shelves stocked],” Treme said. “Especially when it comes to coffee. I take care of coffee orders, and I have to make triple orders of coffee every week – They call me the coffee queen around here.”

Not only does Cane River Kitchenware benefit from getting good business during the holidays, but their cats do, too. At the front counter, where customers check out, there is a jar. It is not for tips, but for donations to the two cats who live behind the store, Oliver and Midnight, so they can be fed and taken care of.

They use the money in the jar to spoil their cats with goodies. One of the two cats, Midnight, is 18 years old. Sadly, they found out that he has stomach cancer, but the employees have been sure to spoil him even more by starting him on wet food.

During the Christmas season, the jar fills up more than usual, allowing the business to buy goodies for the cats’ Christmas presents. They buy them food, treats and, last year, they were able to buy them a cat house to keep them warm during the winter.

The owners, managers, staff and employees in Front Street businesses work hard to prepare for their Christmas crowds, decorating and stocking their stores with extra goods to help make the holiday season a special one for all of Natchitoches.

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About the Contributor
Madelyn Murphy, Current Sauce - Arts & Living Editor
Maddy Murphy is a freshman communication major at NSU. Spending her first semester as a reporter for The Current Sauce, she cannot wait to write news articles and stories inspired by both on-campus and off-campus events in Natchitoches. Her goal is to entertain students by including them in her writing, so be on the lookout—she may ask to interview you for a story!

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