FOUR YEARS AGO, WHEN STACY TUCKER MARTINEZ OPENED ZELE NOLA — short for New Orleans Local Artisans — (2841 Magazine St., 504-450-0789; www.zelenola.com) she became one of the many local entrepreneurs to experiment with a market-style business model. Her sprawling, indoor Magazine Street shop now hosts more than 100 vendors offering handcrafted jewelry, artwork and New Orleans-inspired clothing — all under one roof.
“Zele has become a destination location,” Martinez says. “One thing that locals like about it is that it's always changing. You're not going to walk into the store and see the same merchandise all the time.”
By paying a monthly fee, local artisans and entrepreneurs can rent space in Zele and display their products. Martinez sells those products and receives a commission.
“Zele is more a side gig for people, since they don’t have to be in there all the time,” she says.
Building on the success of Zele NOLA, Martinez opened the Garden District Marketplace (2850 Magazine St., www.instagram.com/gdm_nola) across the street. Vendors pay a daily rental fee, but if they plan on staying for several consecutive days, they can leave their inventory in the space overnight.
ON SEPT. 1, FLY RIGHT GALAXY GIFT & STUDIO (1301 Lyons St., 504-302-9906; www.facebook.com/flyrightgalaxy) celebrated its grand opening on…
Offerings in the Garden District Marketplace range from Oriental rugs and vintage clothing to handmade soaps, apparel for pups and leather cuff bracelets. Some craftspeople work on their latest project while shoppers stroll down the market’s aisles.
Both stores support local artists and benefit the New Orleans economy, Martinez says.
“Every dollar that's spent in town on local [merchandise] regenerates up to three times.” She says market-style shops favor retailers as well, since launching a brick-and-mortar business is time-consuming and expensive.
“One benefit for retailers is to put yourself out there to see how (your business) is received by the public, without the huge financial cost and time commitment of opening your own place,” she says.
Helene Roniger Rightor opened ReDu Marketplace (4700 Magazine St., 504-252-9427; www.redumarketplace.com) in mid-December because she wanted to create a community for artists, creators and designers. Renters at the bright Magazine Street locale are required to make a three-month commitment, and then pay for space from month to month. Merchants can remain in the building “as long as they’re selling,” Rightor says. She receives a commission from her vendors’ sales. Dixie Belle Paint Company’s mineral chalk paint was the first local product she featured in the store, but ReDu now offers garments imbued with watercolor designs, fine art prints and home decor designed by craftspeople from the greater New Orleans area.
“There are so many talented people out there,” says Rightor. “I just wanted to be surrounded by them and support them, the community and myself.”
ReDu also hosts arts-and-crafts workshops and events where guests can paint while sipping wine.
Magazine Merchant House (1150 Magazine St., www.facebook.com/magazinemerchanthouse), just outside the Warehouse District, welcomes a rotating roster of purveyors that sell an eclectic mix of antiques, home furnishings, vintage clothing, imported textiles and accessories, along with glassware and kitchenware.
“The merchants are all individual entrepreneurs,” says owner Rosa Dunlap. “Some of them may eventually open their own retail stores, but it can be prohibitive to do that as a start-up entrepreneur, mainly because of the overhead and the time it takes to run a full-time retail shop.”
Magazine Merchant House likely will become a monthly pop-up, she says. This gives her merchants time to source new products from within the region. The next pop-up is Saturday, March 23.
Dunlap promotes the market’s events and clients on social media, but many of her patrons tend to be folks who live in the surrounding neighborhood or are passing through.
“We're in a highly visible location, and a number of people walk through that door,” Dunlap says. “Hopefully, everyone is profitable and makes sales, and also comes away with a great experience.”
With the market model, customers enjoy perusing a curated collection of unique items sourced from various artists and entrepreneurs, in one space.
“I really don't think there's anywhere else in town that you can go and find as many great vintage, mid-century and antique pieces that are also accessibly priced,” Dunlap says. “The prices are not reflective of the kind of prices you might find in an ongoing retail store that has more overhead. We would rather scour, find great deals and pass on that value to the customer.”