But Anne Dale, owner of Anne-Dale Jeweller in the New Orleans suburb of Mandeville, La., stayed. She says that she is likely to post record sales this year, especially at Christmas—not so much despite the disaster as because of it. Her New Orleans-centric jewelry line has not only helped raise thousands of dollars for various charities and relief funds, it has raised her own profile and broadened her store’s customer base.
Dale a Mandeville, Louisiana based retailer, produced the popularly priced jewelry. So far, $126,000 of the profits have gone to disaster-relief charities.
“The jewelry says ‘courage’ and ‘nobility,’” Dale says. “It heightens awareness of the disaster worldwide. We’ve been filling orders from all over nationally and internationally, the world wide web has opened the customer base up to everyone that has feekings for New Orleans regardless of where they may be.”
The line’s flagship piece is a pin or pendant featuring a fleur-de-lis within a heart, which, combined with lettering above and below, carries the message “I Know What It Means To Love New Orleans.” Related pieces include a “Return To New Orleans” ring (in men’s and ladies’ models) that employs a fleur-de-lis, and a “Pray For The Gulf Coast” medallion/key chain featuring Mary and the baby Jesus. The line is available in sterling silver or 14-karat gold.
In its quest to benefit groups such as the Covington Food Bank, Lighthouse for the Blind, Habitat for Humanity and numerous churches, the jeweler has also found an ally in some other local businesses.
“McIlhenny Co., the maker of Tabasco, is going to be selling our product on the Tabasco Web site, and it’s in their store on Avery Island,” Dale says.
The company also has several more stores in the New Orleans area. Dale herself has done TV appearances to promote the line, which has been an easy sell to the area’s residents.
“We have an additional 100,000 plus people living in St. Tammany Parish because of Katrina, and the trauma and tragedy have given them a greater desire to celebrate life and their loved ones,” Dale says. “Even before the holiday season, business increased because people want to commemorate family-oriented events, and we’ve seen a lot of post-Katrina marriages and babies.”
Anne-Dale’s, founded in 1986, is a single-unit, 2,200-square-foot carriage-trade jewelry store, located in a city with the highest per-capita income in Louisiana. Though its traditional focus has been engagement rings, bridal sets and unique colored-gemstone jewelry, Dale says she is trying to cater to the area’s altered population—not quite as well-heeled as it was before the storm—without sacrificing quality.