Boutte shop owner back in business after Ida-induced closure

After almost two years of struggle, Osama Ottallah is back in business.

Ottallah’s Boutte-located business, Green Dahlia Smoke Shop, like so many others was badly damaged by Hurricane Ida in 2021. Operations were shut down and the rebuilding process has been a long and arduous one, creating major financial strain on Ottallah and his fiancé and forcing him to consider the question of whether reopening the store and pushing forward were even worth it.

Ultimately, he decided it was worth all of it, and his patience and persistence paid off when Green Dahlia opened its doors again in early February.

“I’m blessed,” Ottallah said. “We’re getting new customers in here and seeing some of our old customers come through as well. Hopefully, with a little more work on our part we can build this back up and get completely back to where we want to be.”

The shop opened March 1 of 2020, and after some initial struggles gaining liftoff it truly began to thrive in the summer of 2021.

“We kind of changed things up and were finding a lot of success,” Ottallah said. “Sales were up, we were building a strong inventory, everything was great … but that storm was on the horizon.”

Green Thalia wasn’t spared Ida’s wrath, and to make matters worse the store was looted a week following the storm, Ottallah noted, and the looters took everything. A struggle ensued between he and the store’s insurer over responsibility to cover both the damage and stolen possessions. And regardless of where the money would come from, this was not going to be a quick fix at all.

“Our landlord owns 50 to 60 buildings … so through no fault of his at all, he had his hands absolutely full,” Ottallah said. “So, over the past year and a half, my finance and I have been working jobs, staying in flow and trying to stay ready while the building was being fixed.”

All the while, the couple’s financial struggles were very real. They lost their home due to the hardship and moved in with Ottallah’s soon-to-be mother-in-law to be able to save money. Inflation only compounded matters.

“This was the most difficult thing I’ve had to endure in my life,” he said. “It brought me to almost giving up. Do we give up or do we keep going … I can’t lie, that was a very, very difficult choice and it was really an emotional roller coaster. The cost of everything was going up.”

But things are finally up and running.

Dahlia’s is a unique smoke shop with an artsy flair to it. Ottallah said he enjoys offering different kinds of art for sale in addition to the traditional smoke shop inventory. The store also has several items exclusive to it.

“You’ve got to find what you love to do and do it,” Ottallah said. “I couldn’t be happier that we’re back in business.”


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