National Art and Hobby shuts its doors after 86 years

National Art and Hobby on Magazine Street joins the "Ain't Dere No More" list of classic New Orleans businesses shutting down.

NEW ORLEANS -- National Art and Hobby in Uptown will be closing it's doors for good this Friday.

For almost 90 years, the art store has been a local institution for artists and hobbyist in New Orleans.  One of them is Randy Frechette, better known as Frenchy.  The artist recalled how the store helped him.

"Sometimes you know you got to dig really deep," Frenchy said. "You're always struggling if you're an artist."

Frenchy now runs a gallery on Oak Street, but before he had his own place, he used his talent to help pay his tab at National Art and Hobby.

John Ward was one of the former owners at National Art and Hobby. He used to cut Frenchy a deal, giving him art supplies in exchange for work. That work would turn into a career.

"I was painting John's windows; I was trying to pay off my tab," he said. "Miss Diane Wineger saw me painting windows, and she pulled around, and she goes 'excuse me, darling, do you paint parties?'"

From then on Frenchy's success grew.  And Frenchy's story is just one of thousands who have come through the shop's doors.

"Paint, glue, clay, all those things," Ben Rauch, who also ran the Magazine Street store, said about the young aspiring artists who would come through the door. "I would miss holidays because I wouldn't be able to come in and be with customers."

But after 86 years the shop is closing. 

"There are a lot of things going on, parking, internet sales, changes in buying habits," he said.

There's a list of reasons why the store is closing, and it's all heartbreaking for its customers.

"It's the mom and pops that make Magazine Street what it is and without the mom and pops it won't have the cultural identity," Bruce Faw said.

National Art and Hobby's last day will be Friday, Oct. 20, and then it'll join a growing list of "Ain't Der No More" memories in New Orleans, but the store's legacy may be preserved with its customers for years to come.

"It'll live forever in the paintings and our stories," Frenchy said.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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