Haydel’s Furniture & Appliances perseveres through COVID & Ida

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, October 26, 2022

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LAPLACE — For more than 93 years, Haydel’s Furniture, Appliances & Bedding in Norco has offered something the big box stores can’t – a commitment to staying in tune with the needs of the community through the best and worst of times.

After the store celebrated 90 years in 2019, its role as an essential business in the River Parishes became more vital than ever in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Ida.

“We’ve always tried to stock the most important things that we feel the area customers would like,” said third generation owner Michael Haydel. “My grandfather’s philosophy was always to stock the merchandise so the customer doesn’t have to wait.”

Michael Haydel remembers his grandfather always wore white, short-sleeved shirts embroidered “L.J. Haydel” just below the collar. An electrician by trade, he left a career with Shell Norco in 1929 to open his own business during The Great Depression, initially operating out of various storefronts along Apple Street. The current storefront at 541 Apple Street in Norco opened in 1956 and has persevered ever since.

Michael Haydel was regularly helping out at the family business from the time he was 10 years old. Decades later, he has continued to uphold his father and grandfather’s commitment to customer service.

The industry changed overnight in unexpected ways with the stay at home order in early 2020. Given the OK from St. Charles Parish officials to remain open, the Haydel’s team took COVID-19 safety precautions and continued to serve the community. Washers and dryers became more popular while masses were staying home, and freezers skyrocketed in popularity among those who wanted to take less trips to the store.

As the pandemic stretched on, so did supply chain shortages that continue to rock the world to this day.

“Most everybody was selling out of inventory very quickly. Through the pandemic, there were times we ran out, but there were many times that we were able to get the customer what they wanted when the big box stores were not able to do so in a timely manner,” Haydel said.

“Our goal was to make sure what we purchased what we could at the time. As time has gone on, things have improved greatly. The main products – mid-range washers, dryers, refrigerators – are now back where they should be, whereas some of the specialty, high-end products are still having difficulty getting parts.”

Furniture and appliance shopping became a necessity when Hurricane Ida struck in late August 2021, greatly impacting the surrounding community with wind damage and flooding. People are still returning to their homes more than a year after the storm, while others are just beginning the rebuilding process after battling with insurance.

“People came in and made purchases, knowing from COVID that it could take a long time to get the product in. Things have improved, so we actually have extra containers outside holding merchandise for people,” Haydel said.

While it’s impossible to keep everything in stock at all times, the Haydel’s Furniture team focuses on what has been most popular among local shoppers, particularly rustic furniture pieces that have been an enduring trend for the past 10 years. Recently, the community has taken an interest in newer matte black and white appliance designs over stainless steel.

According to Haydel, many people come into the store after hearing a word-of-mouth referral or when they are unable to find a particular product elsewhere. He often hears customers say, “I didn’t realize you were still here,” or “Sorry I didn’t think about you first.” By the time they leave, those same customers assure him, “We’ll be back.”

“Before shopping with us, many customers didn’t realize how competitive our pricing is. If you go to our website and compare pricing, you will see we are lower than the national retailers,” Haydel said.

“I don’t have the dollars to scream and yell to come see us like the big boys do, but word of mouth has been very helpful on the East Bank and West Bank of St. John and St. Charles. I’m just grateful for the opportunity the people in the River Parishes gave us during the pandemic as well as through the hurricane.”

Donna Gibson recently purchased items from Haydel’s including a new refrigerator. She went to Haydel’s not just because of the pricing, but primarily for the customer service. When she experienced problems with her refrigerator, the Haydel’s team made sure she was taken care of.

“My trust in Haydel’s was well-placed and today I have a new fridge. It was delivered by polite, well-spoken and professional staffers who showed care and consideration for me, my property and household and neighbors. They also worked cleanly leaving no debris inside or out. This is why when needing furniture or appliances, Haydel’s will again be my first call – you cannot get their service from any big box store,” Gibson said in a recent review.

Gibson’s perspective was shared by many during L’OBSERVATEUR’s second annual Best of the River Parishes online contest. Haydel’s came out on top for Best Home Appliance Store and Best Home Furnishings Store.
“It’s very humbling to know that people think that about us and to know we can offer quality product at a good price with follow-up customer service,” Haydel said.

For more information, call 985-764-7572, like Haydel’s Furniture & Appliances on Facebook or visit haydelsfurniture.com.