Gentilly Retail Center brings back commercial shopping options to the community
The new Gentilly Retail Strip Center is currently in development, but businesses rue 21, rue+, and Dollar Tree opened earlier this August and are providing both more variety and affordable shopping to residents in the area.
When the Gentilly Messenger contacted Dorsey Development for comment on the tenants they chose for the shopping area, a representative explained that the whole area may have languished after Hurricane Katrina, but the Walmart across the street, located on 4301 Chef Menteur Highway, changed the “dynamic” of retail in the neighborhood.
Dorsey Development said their new retail and restaurant tenants are catering to the same demographic that the Walmart Supercenter has been serving since it opened in 2014. Store managers of the new retail strip in Gentilly weighed in on their businesses’ opening so far.
Theresa Weary, store manager of the new rue 21 on Chef Menteur Highway, has worked as an assistant manager at rue 21 for four years, and she says she’s excited to be working as store manager for the first time in the Gentilly Retail Center. Although she now lives on the Westbank in New Orleans, Gentilly is where she grew up.
“It’s not the same as it was before, but it’s home,” Weary said.
She described this commercial shopping area as dire, prior to the arrival of the Gentilly Retail Center.
“There was nothing here,” Weary said. “Everyone had to travel so far away just to get what they needed.”
Weary said that now that the shopping area is building back up, people are happy and appreciative that more stores exist close by and at reasonable prices from national retailers. She’s observed several parents come into rue21 to shop for back to school clothing for their children, and Weary attributes some of her store’s business to her Dollar Tree neighbors next door.
“They really needed a Dollar Tree,” Weary said.
Casey Muse, store manager of Dollar Tree in the strip center, said she’s glad to see retailers and restaurants come back into the area and that business has been booming since Dollar Tree’s opening. She said Dollar Tree is catering to the Gentilly neighborhood, and residents from New Orleans East as well.
“A lot of people like the fact of the convenience,” Muse said.
According to Muse, the business is serving residents from New Orleans East as well. Although, as the shopping area stands, she said it can’t compare to the former Gentilly Woods Mall. Muse recalled living and shopping in the area before the storm.
“For certain things, we still have to venture off. Pre-Katrina, everything was in a one stop shop.”
According to property owner and developer Dorsey Development, the remaining businesses to open up by the end of Aug. or early Sept. on 4242 Chef Menteur Highway include: Wingstop, Footaction, Kids Footlocker and LA Nails and Hair Spa.