Going Greek is easy with a little help from Balfour House. The locally based store has been offering letter-perfect paraphernalia to fraternity and sorority members for more than 30 years. Unlike many shops that offer Greek-themed goods along with other gift items, Balfour House focuses exclusively on everything from Alpha to Omega–making it one of the only stores of its kind in the nation, with a customer base from coast to coast. We sat down with owner Angela Quint to learn more about the store:
1. What is a typical day like for you and your team? We are kept busy in the store tending to our local walk-in customers as well as phone and online order customers from across the country. With our business targeting college students who are members of sororities and fraternities, our business cycles follow the academic session calendar, with the fall semester being busier than the spring semester.
2. What is your professional background? How did you get into the retail field? I was in the banking industry for 23 years before my husband and I bought this business. He was the first employee hired by the original owner when we were in college at LSU and he has wanted to own the business ever since. We finally got the opportunity to buy the business in 2009. As a result, I manage the day-to-day operations of the business and he helps outside of the time he spends in his career in the petrochemical industry.
3. What are the first things customers see when they walk through the doors? The custom apparel we have built ourbusiness around. As they get past that and look around, they’ll find a very well-organized and wide variety of fraternity and sorority novelty items that includes items such as key chains, cups, picture frames, cards/stationery, blankets, throws, painted canvases and more.
4. What sets your store apart? It is a unique store that is dedicated to the Greek market. We don’t carry LSU items or other gift items. While other schools may have stores in town that have a small Greek section in the corner, we are one of very few around the country that caters strictly to the fraternity and sorority market.
5. What is one thing you think customers should know about your store that they may not be aware of? We can help individuals or chapters with any size and type of custom order. We are fortunate to have a very loyal customer base comprised of fraternity and sorority chapters from schools across the country.
6. How do you keep your store’s inventory fresh and up to date? We attend an annual market dedicated to fraternity and sorority paraphernalia and are always asking our vendors what they have new to offer from year to year.
7. Can you share a hint about what shoppers will see in your store next season? We are always looking for the “latest” or “newest” trending item.
8. What was your reason for opening the store? When did it open, and how has it grown or changed since then? The store originally opened in the mid 1980s as a fraternity and sorority jewelry outlet that sold rings, pins and other jewelry items in a franchise territory that included Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and south Alabama. The retail side of the business was added within a year of opening and drove the need for larger and larger stores. The original store was located on Highland Road just outside the gates of LSU’s campus above what is now another retail store. It moved from there to a shopping center located where the FedEx building is on State Street and then again to the Highland Village shopping center next to what is now The Fat Cow restaurant on the south side of campus in 1985. It stayed in that location until it was moved to its current location in the Southgate Village Shopping Center on Burbank Drive in 2011.
9. What are a few must-have items this season? Sorority “jerseys” (tank tops) are a staple item this time of year as we approach spring and warmer temperatures.
10. What are some of your best-selling products? Our best-sellers range from apparel such as sorority jerseys, Line jackets and shirts to novelty items including Koala Pouches for phones, car decals, front license plates and rear license plate frames.