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MVW Gallery

In search of Americaʼs most unique jewelry retail businesses




Mvw Gallery, New Orleans, LA

OWNERS: Mary Viola Walker; ADDRESS: 3652 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70115; PHONE: (504) 891-4122

IF YOUʼRE LOOKING FOR “Southern hospitality”, MVW Gallery is the place to go. In an effort to create a classic Southern experience, owner Mary Viola Walker designed the store herself. And while only a few months old, MVW Gallery is fast becoming a highlight of the cityʼs trendy art and retail district — epitomizing the regionʼs tradition of comfort and elegance.

What would you say is the most unique feature of the store?

The variety of modern jewelry creations that stand against the traditional architecture. Also, we carry on the great tradition of Southern hospitality. We have an educated and enthusiastic team that caters to the guest. While in the shop, you can enjoy coffee, tea, wine or champagne while shopping. For the guys, they have their choice of menʼs magazines to sit and read. Everything leaves gift-wrapped, even if itʼs a self-purchase. We know there are other jewelry shops … we want ours to be an “experience”.

Whatʼs it like inside?

The interior is “yummy” — a really “chi-chi” apartment that happens to sell jewelry, accessories and art. To keep the retail atmosphere and sales pressure off the client, we tucked all the paperwork and desk in the office. We converted an antique desk to house our cash and credit card machines on the floor. This way the guest doesnʼt feel it all revolves around a sale. It revolves around making them comfortable.

How much did it cost to adapt the building?

Our total renovation cost was $14,000. It was definitely worth it.


Has The Design Helped sales?

We know the appearance has helped sales. The reaction from everyone has been fantastic. They love it and walk excitedly from room to room. We have people come in specifically because another client has told them to come by and take a look. We have done more in our first month than we did the entire month of December in our old location.

What do you like most about the store? And least?

What we like most and least about the location are the same thing … location, location and location. We are in a great area, but traffic and parking can be a struggle and those New Orleans parades can always affect our weekend sales.

Whatʼs the history of the building itself?

Who was it built by and why? The building is a classic-traditional-New Orleans-Victorian-shotgun-double-camelback. Thatʼs a mouthful. Around the turn of the century, this area was built up with smaller family homes that belonged to servants or families that worked for the surrounding plantation or estate owners. Who would have thought a century later that it would become a trendy retail/arts district?

Any specific requirements for converting the building?

Lots of lighting and rich colors. We also had to add several outlets, especially for the guest kiosk where clients can check out the Internet and our website. Most of these old buildings have only one outlet in each room. Otherwise, we wanted to keep that traditional “New Orleans feel” throughout the space. Thatʼs what the customer wants.


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