NEW ORLEANS -- Three new big box retailers are on their way to opening in the city of New Orleans: a Costco and two Walmarts. They're significant retail additions to the city's economy and job base.
Workers are stocking the tables, bins and palettes at the much-anticipated Costco store off Carrollton Avenue.
“You literally do have to be a member in order to shop here. Our membership fees range from $55 to $110 depending on which level of membership you purchase,” said Pete Carter, the store’s general manager.
Carter wouldn't say how many people have bought memberships so far to shop the new store, but he would say the company hired more workers than expected, more than 200, to serve the anticipated customer base.
“I'm really thrilled that the nation is beginning to recognize that the city of New Orleans is not only coming back but steaming back,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu at a groundbreaking for a new Walmart store in Gentilly.
Last April, Landrieu announced the planned construction of another new Walmart in New Orleans East.
On Facebook Tuesday, Landrieu said he thinks the city is in the middle of a retail boom.
“We've seen the population finally getting traction in the recovery from Katrina,” said UNO economist Ivan Miestchovich.
Miestchovich said the retail growth is more a factor of the city's recovery from Hurricane Katrina, and that even though the jobs they bring may not be all that high paying, it's still a great thing for the economy.
“In many respects, a job is a job,” he said.
Plus, Miestchovich said stores like Costco draw customers from beyond the metro area, adding more revenue to what some call cash-strapped city coffers.
Costco is scheduled to open Sept. 21, a little bit later than expected because of difficulty with drainage during construction. They're planning to open a Baton Rouge store next spring.