Champagne Strolling signals the start of a Magazine Street revival

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Banners along a deserted Magazine Street in 2020 proclaim resilience. (Courtesy of Magazine Street Merchants Association)

The annual Champagne Stroll is returning to Magazine Street this Friday (May 7) through Sunday (May 9). This year it is called “Champagne Strolling” and takes place as a three-day event: Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The spring 2020 Champagne Stroll was virtual, on a live interactive video feed, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual component will also continue this year. 

The Magazine Street Merchants Association sponsors the event and encourages everyone to sip and shop safely.

“Despite the pandemic, we are trying to maintain the traditions of our Magazine Street events,” said MSMA President Kevin Gillentine, who owns the Kevin Gillentine gallery at 3917 Magazine. “We need to be creative, and make them safe and doable.”

That is why the association decided to spread this event, usually Saturday only, over three days. “We’d love to have you, but not all at once!” Gillentine said. “As the Magazine Street Merchants Association, we want to encourage safest, best practices.” 

About 70 businesses will be offering specials, in-store events, entertainment and, of course, free bubbly in event cups from Friday through Sunday.

Participating businesses span the distance of the iconic 6-mile corridor — from the New Orleans Glassworks & Printmaking Studio at 727 Magazine near Girod Street to Basics Underneath and the Swap Boutique in the 5500 block near Joseph Street. Each participant is listed here along with any Champagne Strolling specials.

This 2021 event marks the beginning of a fresh new start for Magazine Street businesses that have suffered through the pandemic, event organizers said.

“Our unique stretch of shopping, dining and strolling has endured,” said Nathalie Andrault, managing director of the MSMA. “Magazine Street merchants are ready to safely welcome the crowds back especially as the pandemic impact is receding in New Orleans and more people are getting vaccinated.”

The association rechristened the event the “Champagne Strolling” to encourage outside sipping and avoidance of crowds. The stroll coincides with Mother’s Day, and of course the idea is to shop for your mother — or take her shopping.

“While we continue to request safe social distancing and wearing masks,” Andrault said. “We felt it was time to bring the focus on local businesses while enjoying the experience of walking along our beautiful street.” 

This event is part of the greater rejuvenating promotions, “Maycation on Magazine,that span the entire month of May, encouraging the public to shop, dine and simply enjoy Magazine Street while supporting local businesses.

Small business owners are echoing the idea of encouraging customers. “We want new — and returning — clientele to help bring Magazine Street back,” said Jennifer Lopez, who recently opened JLeauxBloom, a nail studio specializing in natural nails (as opposed to acrylics or wraps placed over real nails) and homemade herbal lotions and scrubs.

It is located inside the new Magazine Wellness center, a collection of independent spas at 2900 Magazine, the former location of Belladonna. “I am hoping the 2021 Champagne Stroll brings in business and calls attention to Magazine Wellness,” Lopez said. 

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Magazine Wellness, 2900 Magazine St.

Farther downtown at 2401 Magazine, Brooke St. Amant at the Monomin boutique had a similar response: “We are excited to bring some fun and excitement back to Magazine Street,” St. Amant said. “It brings a sense of normality back to the street.”

Posters and well as handheld paper fans are promoting this event. The association’s website adds:  “Champagne is for Strolling, so please remember to #SipSafely outside with one of our festive go-cups!”

Shopkeepers will decide individually whether they are comfortable with customers drinking inside or if they prefer they take the bubbly in the festive go-cups outside. 

The city’s rules and precautions for the pandemic continue to be enforced. The MSMA and all participating businesses ask that the public maintain safe distancing and wear a mask indoors. 

The association is also  offering prize packages to winners among those who post photos of themselves during the event. Their website says to “Show us your Champagne Strolling Toast while you’re out on Magazine! Post a pic and tag it with #postyourtoast to be entered to win an assortment of gift cards from businesses on Magazine Street!”

Champagne Strolling 2021 is also online. The MSMA encourages everyone to follow along via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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