Checking in at Toomey's as pandemic challenges Mardi Gras 2021
MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) — In Mobile, Mardi Gras isn't complete without an annual pilgrimage to Toomey’s. Beads, Hats, throws. It's all here, and you'd be hard pressed to leave without a Moon Pie or a mask.... which is why it's so unusual to see a sign on the door instructing customers not to enter unless they're already wearing one!
COVID-19 is already challenging those who make merry in Mobile.
With all of the uncertainty in the world right now, you might think that even Mardi Gras is in question this coming year. But at Toomey’s they are ready to let the good times roll, regardless.
"I think everybody's cautious but yet, hoping for the best," says Stephen Toomey. What happens in his store is always a good barometer for how the city is feeling about carnival. And with only four months to go until the kick off of the 2021 season, sales don't seem to be taking a hit.
"We're working with a lot of the groups,” he says, “the organizations that sell back to their memberships with the custom items and so forth, and those sales have been real strong."
Stephen has noticed fewer orders for some of the specialized items bearing dates and themes of Mardi Gras balls...
As for stocking the store, Stephen says he has to assume parades and balls will carry on as usual.
Can't be caught short without stock, says Stephen, "...because it's not like we can wait and get all of our merchandise in on January once the mayor decides or the city council decides what happens, so we're moving forward with our orders and we're unloading containers weekly, practically, this time of year."
Customers strolling through Toomey's see few reminders of the pandemic. There's the obligatory sanitizing station, even packages of carnival theme protective masks... but Stephen and staff know it is on shopper's minds.
What does he want customers to know?
"Well,” he says, “I just want everybody to follow the CDC guidelines and Mobilians do their part to keep everyone as safe as possible so we can nip this in the bud and have some fun... and let the good times roll!"