Shopping in one of the weirdest stores of all time

I’m obsessed with the “health and beauty” products made, sold and used around the world. Anywhere I travel, I always keep an eye out for unusual products to bring home with me. And then I proceed to use the products sparingly because who knows when I’ll ever return to the place to restock my supply. Thankfully, the Internet has enabled me to make virtual visits to some of my favorite shops, worldwide. Online shopping is the best!

A couple weeks ago, I was in New Orleans visiting my sister. We were exploring her eclectic neighborhood, Bywater, and my sister suddenly and sort of violently grabbed my shoulders with both of her hands and proclaimed, “OMG! There’s this store I have to take you to. You’ll flip out over how weird it is.” Awesome, I said, let’s go!

As we approached the store, I was a little nervous. It was in a semi-shady part of town and it looked like a warehouse that had been damaged in Hurricane Katrina. The store had a ghost town feeling. Very erie. Also, the name of the store threw me for a loop: The Mardi Gras Zone. Huh?

But once inside, the place was interesting. The warehouse was organized into about 10 long and deep aisles that ran the length of the store. Unlike conventional stores, the aisles didn’t have openings that allow shoppers to quickly move from aisle to aisle. In this store, once you decided to go down an aisle, you had to commit to it. My sister and I wandered through all the aisles, maneuvering around and between boxes of supplies that needed to be unpacked and shelved. In the canned goods aisle we overheard two employees yelling at one another. One of the guys said, “Get your fat ass moving. Unpack these boxes. How many times do I have to tell you?” To which the other employee, who was steadying himself on a ladder, snapped, “God dammit, get off my back. Leave me the hell alone.” Awkward!

We kept strolling the aisles, pretending not to hear the bickering coworkers. Finally, we landed in the beauty aisle. For being such a weird store, they had an amazing assortment of products. Who would have ever guessed that a run down warehouse would have such an impressive array of feminine hygiene products? They had organic tampons. We’d never seen such a thing.

I ended up purchasing a stick of “Earth to Skin” Heel-taskic intensive heel therapy. Also, I bought two “Deep Steep” moisture sticks. They’re made of organic oils and herbs and are meant to be used as a balm for your skin or lips. And I’m using the products, not rationing them. My sister said she’d buy more for me whenever I needed them. 🙂

Here’s a link to a New York Times article featuring the Mardi Gras Zone: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/18/us/18orleans.html

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