by Angie Kay Dilmore
Abby Ferguson made her dream come true when she opened Etie’s, A Children’s Shoppe in 2018. Her budding business in Sulphur, La. was located in the very building where her great-grandparents, Charles and Cora Etie, opened a general store in the 1920s. Today, Abby sells clothing and accessories for children from preemies to youth XL, toys and games, and books.
The Southwest Louisiana community embraced Abby’s endeavor and all was well . . . until 2020. “The COVID-19 shutdown forced us to find new ways to reach people,” Abby says. “We had to close the storefront for two months, and we relied heavily on social media during that time. We offered free shipping, free local delivery, and curbside pickup. With schools being shut down, we had many customers looking for ways to keep their kids entertained. We brought in a lot of new merchandise to help meet those needs – from educational games and activities to outdoor toys.”
When businesses were still closed around Easter of last year, Abby offered private shopping appointments for customers who wanted to shop in a social distanced environment. “The response from the community during that time was great,” Abby adds. “People seemed to want to support local business. We made it through and with extra safety measures in place, and we fully re-opened in June 2020.
Two months later, Hurricanes Laura and Delta ravaged the region. “Our roof failed, and the store took on a tremendous amount of water, and then continued to take on water for weeks because there was no way to tarp our roof. We lost almost all our inventory and most of our fixtures and built-ins. A few weeks after Laura, roofers began replacing our roof, but Hurricane Delta damaged the work that had been started. The Etie’s building is concrete, so the structure was fine. But almost everything else (roof, floors, ceiling, built-ins) needed to be replaced.” With help from family and friends and especially her father, Abby salvaged what she could and, like so many residents in the region, waited for the roof repair, which happened in January 2021. “It was hard to be patient. I was so ready to get back into the building. Once major repairs like the roof were done, we began the arduous task of rebuilding the interior.” Once again, family and friends, even her young sons helped in any way they could.
When Abby realized her shop wouldn’t reopen by Christmas (every retailer’s busiest season), she worried about the future of her store. But a “guardian angel” came to Etie’s rescue. Vicki Nezat, owner of Victoria’s on Oak in Sulphur, gave Abby a room in her store free of charge to temporarily set of shop for the holiday season. “It was wonderful,” Abby says. “I’m so grateful to her and proud to be part of a community where one business owner will sacrifice space so that another business owner can stay afloat.”
Etie’s, A Children’s Shoppe has been reopened for business since June of this year. They are located at 206 S. Huntington St. in Sulphur, La. For more information, call 337-888-3019.