Our quirkiest stockist, I.J. Reilly’s Knick Knacks and Curiosities, is located in a 19th century Elysian Fields building that was the address for the Kowalski’s in Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire.” If you’re looking to take home a piece of NOLA culture, this place is the real deal; I.J.’s is filled with original made-in-NOLA artwork, books, music, clothing, and accessories (including our Tchoup bags!) that tell the true stories of our strange, beloved city. Their sister company – NOLA’s original bike tour company – is housed next door. Here is some behind-the-scenes info from Cassady Cooper, the shop’s very passionate and comical owner.
Q: What was the idea behind I.J. Reilly’s?
A: We opened in December 2012. I.J. Reilly is the name of the protagonist of the great New Orleans novel, “Confederacy Of Dunces,” which is where our sister company, “Confederacy of Cruisers,” also takes their name. It is a story that evokes all the things that make New Orleans different and wonderful; Ignatius is unapologetically himself, much to the chagrin and dismay of others. The shop is filled with what I feel are the authentic, unapologetic voices of New Orleans, without all the fleur-di-lis you find covering everything in the French Quarter.
Q: You sell mainly products by local artisans – why do you think it’s so important to “shop local” in New Orleans?
A: People talk so much about shopping American, I thought it was even more important to showcase what we actually make here in New Orleans, since we are less American and more the Northern Most City-State of the Caribbean. So, “Buy New Orleanian!”
Q: Who are some of the most interesting customers that have stopped into the shop?
A: Besides regular New Orleanians – who are some of the most interesting characters you meet anywhere, ever – we’ve had the occasional encounter with Hollywood South and the like. Of course, we usually don’t know who they are till they leave. After renting bikes to Beyoncé and her sister, Andrew (one of the wonderful people who helps run the shop) had to inform me who she was. I eventually remembered her from the movie Austin Powers.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your bike tours?
A: Confederacy of Cruisers is the oldest bike tour company in the city and the first post-Katrina. It was started by Jeff Shyman and Lycia Ferguson to give people something that actually showcased the city the way we saw it, without the accompaniment of capes and plastic fangs. The tours cruise through the city’s neighborhoods: we have a Creole history tour, a Food Coma tour, a History of Drinking tour and a Ninth Ward Rebirth tour.
[Pictured above: Cassady chatting it up with one of his loyal customers]
Our favorite part of the shop? Definitely this beautiful TCHOUP display sign that they made by hand!
Whether you’re a local or an out-of-towner, we can’t recommend a visit to this shop highly enough. If you’re interested in purchasing a specific Tchoup bag at I.J.’s, be sure to call ahead of time to check on their inventory.
I.J. Reilly’s is located at 632 Elysian Fields in the Marigny Triangle.
For more info, visit www.ijreillys.com.