It has been quite a few years since the close of Loretta Foreman’s Country Emporium, and Paula Hooper is bringing antique shopping back to Central with the opening of Central City Antiques. A Central resident for twenty-three years, Hooper has been dealing in antiques nearly as long. “My grandmother actually started me with my first piece when I was thirteen,” Hooper said.
Much more than a sentimental hobby, Hooper has worked as a vendor in various antique shops in southern Louisiana, which eventually led to a business opportunity right here in Central. “I came out of one in Zachary right after the flood,” she explained, “I had a large inventory, and I told my husband that I wanted to open up my own business. It was something me and my daddy had always talked about. It was my dream.”
After a timely deal with the previous owner, Paula Hooper began preparing for opening day under the guidance of her new landlord and antique enthusiast, Loretta Foreman, who opened her own antique business when she was Hooper’s age. She has even given Hooper her secret recipe for the scones that she used to serve in the Country Emporium tea room. “We’re not going to have the tea room here,” Foreman explained, “but we will have refreshments.” Hooper added that she wants people to feel at home while they shop.
Despite setbacks from the August flood, Central City Antiques is set for its grand opening on Saturday, October 15th. With sixteen vendors locked in since the flood, both women expect more vendors will follow and add to the variety already present. The three-acre property allows for outside vendors as well, on which Hooper will allow each vendor a 10x10 tent space to sell their wares. Central City Antiques features custom-made cypress furniture, glassware, monogramming, Victorian ironworks and the largest selection of collectible jewelry in Louisiana, the last of which can be attributed to Hooper’s love for jewelry. “It has just really been my number one passion,” she said.
As natives of Central, both Hooper and Foreman expressed concern for the wellbeing of their city during this time of rebuilding. “People are trying to get their lives back together, and they need something pretty to focus on right now,” Hooper said, “They say antique shopping is great therapy.” Antique shopping aside, Hooper is confident that Central rebuild stronger than ever, simply because people love it here.
Central City Antiques is just behind Zoar Baptist Church on Joor Road. For more information, click here.