What Does Mardi Gras Mean for Local Business?

Mardi Gras is a huge part of our culture here in Southern Louisiana. For area businesses, this can translate as a hurdle or a time to celebrate with clients and employees alike. Whether you’re a krewe lover or you’d rather escape the city during carnival time, there’s no doubt that Mardi Gras has a massive social and economic impact on New Orleans. A study of the 2011 Mardi Gras season showed there was a $300 million boost to the local economy as a direct result of the festivities. We hear a lot about the revenue generated as tourists and locals spend money on trinkets and drink at local bars. But it’s not just the hospitality industry that benefits from our favorite two weeks of debauchery. Every small business in the area feels some effects from the revelry. We spoke with three local business women to get their take on what Mardi Gras means to them and their businesses.

“Mardi Gras generates dollars for the city, gets lots of media coverage, and of course brings in thousands and thousands of tourists from all over the US,” says Michele Spansel, manager of Roux Royale, a gift shop in the French Quarter. She continues, “We certainly get our fair share of the Mardi Gras crowd. We start selling king cakes on the 12th night from local bakeries, and have a variety of Mardi Gras candies, and fun accessories such as ‘go-cups’ and cookies!”

Her favorite part of Mardi Gras is the energy surrounding it all.

“It begins to appear right after New Year with king cake and decorations popping up all over the city, followed by lots of purple, green, and gold gear, t-shirts, and of course the parade tracker!”


Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez

While Roux Royale sees thousands of tourists during Mardi Gras, event planner Susan Zackin of Z Event Company spends her carnival season catering to the locals.

“We end up working on a lot of the Mardi Gras balls from Queen’s suppers to viewings and parties! We also participate in getting the Mardi Gras ‘royalty’ to all of their events on time and with everything they’ll be needing for the night, which is a lot of stuff!”

But working around the logistical quagmire that is New Orleans Carnival can be a challenge. Zackin says that getting around the parade routes can be tough.

“Having events during Mardi Gras is very tricky, but we enlist the NOPD for an escort when necessary. We have a few tricks up our sleeves ;)”


Spansel is no stranger to the less exciting side of the season either,

“Traffic, street closures, and lots of trash are just part of the entire Mardi Gras experience! When I walk to work with that overwhelming stench of beer and who knows what, I think to myself – glad they had a good time.”

A couple of days off is good for business

Before everyone ‘passes a good time’ during Carnival, they need to be sure to look their best, and that’s where the city’s vibrant beauty industry really stands out. Dr. Susan Glaudi is a dermatologist and owner of Bonus Image Aesthetics off Magazine Street. Although her business is closed during the parades, she also feels a positive impact from the season.

“People are going to balls and parties and want to look their best, so they turn to us. We do a lot of rejuvenating procedures to help our clients look and feel great.” With Mardi Gras coming so soon after the holidays this year, many of Glaudi’s clients want to speed up their New Year’s resolutions with technology. She says, “Our BTL Vanquish Me service is for body sculpting, which is great because it’s painless and there is no down time.”

While it’s true that most of the economic impact of our great holiday focuses on the hospitality industry, almost every aspect of the city’s small businesses feels some sort of positive impact. That’s one of the many reasons why New Orleans loves Mardi Gras, and it loves us back.

Here’s hoping for a happy and safe carnival season to all of our friends and readers!

Want to discuss how the Carnival season can positively impact your business? We can chat all about it in a free strategy session!