Carnival craze at Mardi Gras supply store

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Bags of beads were flying off the shelves Monday morning. On Fat Tuesday, those shiny treasures will be flying off the floats.

"We just scan, scan, scan beads. Everybody's buying a lot. It's been a good day today," said Yohanna Ormeneze, a cashier at the Mardi Gras Supplies store in Gulfport.

Lundi Gras is always a hectic day at the store. Just about every aisle was filled with shoppers. Some krewe members were just making a last-minute run for throws.

"I got everything from inflatable monkeys. That big guy over there," said Jason Haugen as he pointed to a large plastic monkey. "We got some really big beads. It's actually my first year riding on a float, so I went all out."

"Just some extras that we needed. We're running a little short. We threw too many," said Emily Aycock of Vancleave. Aycock was talking about all the beads she tossed at the D'Iberville parade Sunday afternoon.

Other shoppers were more interested in the Fat Tuesday fashion and decorations. And Alice Brewer was on a different shopping mission.

"I'm going to buy some stuff to take home with me so I can have Mardi Gras next year in my location in Columbus, GA," said Alice Brewer. "I work for the government and run a senior center. Of course, I'm going to wear it around town too."

The carnival spirit seemed to be riding high, despite the slumping economy. So far, the store has sold about a million boxes of beads, toys, and other trinkets.

It was also a busy scene in the store warehouse. The employees were busy filling orders from all over the world. Although Internet sales have dropped from 1.7 million boxes to 500,000 boxes this year, store sales have actually jumped to help make up the difference.

"It's very busy. We're very full all the time," said Ormeneze.

"Happy Mardi Gras!" a little girl shouted.

The Mardi Gras Supplies store will be open until noon Tuesday. The store is already stocked with beads and decorations for the next big party -- St. Patrick's Day.