Greetings from New Orleans!
Having so many requests for an e-commerce site to compliment our Tabasco Country Stores® located in the heart of the French Quarter, we have created The New Orleans Cajun Store.
I am Laura Drumm and own the store with my husband, Hughes Drumm, Jr. We work the businesses on a daily basis. We are licensees of the McIlhenny Company with the rights to operate these locations. While much of our inventory is made up of the wonderful products from Tabasco®, we also carry other items representing our area’s culture and traditions.
How Katrina affected our lives and business
It is a question we get daily from our customers who sympathize with each New Orleanean’ Katrina experience. We are very comfortable talking about our experiences and actually feel it is part of our duty in the effort to bring back our great city. Personally we were very fortunate to live in one of the high parts of the city, Uptown and thus, did not have any flooding in our neighborhood.
We live in a 100+ year old raised shotgun double that still had the original slate roof (of course with many repairs through the years). Our damage was experienced from the roof down because of the extensive damage to the slate. FEMA will not tarp slate roofs even if you are willing to sign a waiver of responsibility. Since we could not return to the city for almost a month, rain water caused damage to the ceilings, with one room’s ceiling falling in. All in all we had about $50,000 worth of damages. However, we know we are extremely blessed when we see what so many of our neighbors lost in lower parts of the city. It’s a funny thing how no matter how much someone has lost here, when you ask them their story and they tell it, they usually end it by saying “but we’re so lucky because…..”.
When I returned home in January 2006, I felt enough time had passed that I could go into the devastated parts of the city without being in the way or seeming as if I was gawking at their loss. I wanted to see these neighborhoods and give them my tears, thoughts and prayers. It would be easy to remain in the “Sliver on the River” and forget what others are still going through; that just doesn’t seem right…
There was never a question about whether or not our family would return to New Orleans, but we knew it was going to be a challenge. Our business relies almost totally on tourists, although the locals have been wonderful about supporting local businesses. Before Katrina we only had the airport location, having moved there in early 2005 from our previous location at the Riverwalk. It was a perfect fit, Tabasco® being such a famous Louisiana product. When we realized it would be a while before conventions and tourism returned full bore, we knew we needed another location.
Having chosen to come back, I knew it was important to seek out the positives and realize this was our choice. That philosophy was best demonstrated by the fact that the opportunity to open a store on Jackson Square at 537 St. Ann presented itself in the summer of 2006. Such a wonderful location usually takes years to come by but because of the hurricane, we were presented with a great opportunity. In October 2006 we opened the French Quarter location. I would be lying if I said I didn’t worry about things working out, but looking out onto the wrought iron gates, New Orleans flora and that pink skyline that comes just before dusk, I know it is worth the struggle. There are those who think we are crazy, and maybe we are; but I am thankful to love something enough to fight for it…and I love New Orleans.
So please come down and visit New Orleans. We are still here, battered but not broken. Many say New Orleans will never be the same and it won’t because an event like Katrina cannot leave us unchanged. However, though we rebuild her with some differences, New Orleans will always possess a heart and spirit that cannot be lost… On a lighter note, sit awhile and enjoy our site. I hope you find something that makes you want it “yesterday”, or that you find the perfect gift for a friend. At the very least, I am glad you thought about New Orleans today….. Laura
Update: Please note we have closed our locations at the New Orleans Airport due to the excessive limitations on liquids.