Local mini-mart dubbed ‘Knife Capitol of the South’

Nominees sought for Thib. chamber banquet
December 4, 2013
Albert P. Dufrene Sr.
December 4, 2013
Nominees sought for Thib. chamber banquet
December 4, 2013
Albert P. Dufrene Sr.
December 4, 2013

When Roland Henry opened Roland’s Klondyke Mini Mart in the early 1980s, a traditional convenience store was born.

“We were a basic convenience store. We had potato chips, drinks, gas, sandwiches and real basic things like that,” Henry said looking back. “It wasn’t anything overly special – we were a gas station.”

Who knew that close to 30 years later the store would flourish and become the Knife Capitol of the South?

Closing in on its 30-year anniversary, Roland’s has blossomed into a convenience store and also a home for a wide range of knives, swords, shields and other collectable items.

Henry said he’s proud of how far the business has come, touting that his key to success is taking care of the needs of the customer.

“Most of our success comes from having a hands-on operation of our business,” Henry said. “We try and treat people right. Convenience stores are known to have high prices because of the buying volume. But we’ve been able to give people a decent price and also good service to keep them happy.”

Henry is not a stranger to the local business scene.

“I’ve been in business in one way or another for most of my life,” he said.

After owning a family-run meat market in the 1970s, Henry said he got the decision to open a convenience store in the southern portion of Terrebonne Parish.

With that idea in mind, Henry said he secured the store’s location – where La. Highway 24 meets the Bourg-Larose Highway in Klondyke – and got rolling as a typical convenience store.

“In the early days here, I was on the school board, so that was eating up a lot of the time that I could spend over here at the store,” Henry said. “I was actually splitting my time between the school board and here. We had novelties and different things, but when I got off the school board and had more time, I really was able to dedicate myself to seeing if we could do different things to help our business grow.”

With that in mind, Henry said his business changed about a decade ago and started to offer knives and other weaponry.

The store’s owner said the shift was purely fate – it started as a prank between Henry and a few friends.

“It started as a joke, actually,” Henry said with a laugh. “I’d always carry a big knife. And a lot of the guys would tease me and say, ‘Awe, Roland, there’s no way you could find a bigger knife than that.’ So we went to a hardware show and they had a pocketknife that opened up to about two-and-a-half feet long.

“So I wanted to buy one, but the guy only would sell it to me by the dozen, so I bought all 12. So I pulled out the knife and freaked them all out. … But sure enough, they all wanted to buy one, too.”

Since the prank, Henry said he’s become fascinated by how much people in south Louisiana love knives.

He said the store carries dozens of different types and makes, with prices ranging from high-dollar to inexpensive.

“We’ve become known as the Knife Capitol of the South,” Henry said. “And that’s not me saying that to brag. Other people have given us that name. We’ve got novelty fantasy knives and swords to all different kinds and types of brands of knives.

“No matter the brand, the thing is that they’re all selling.”

Henry said because of Louisiana’s workforce, which consists of thousands of offshore employees or shipbuilders, “practically everyone” carries around a pocketknife.

He said that Roland’s has offered that possibility to people at affordable and convenient prices.

“People here want a knife that if it happens to break or if it happens to get stolen or misplaced, then it’s not a $50 knife down the drain,” Henry said. “We blend our knives between cheap knives, but good knives and also some other higher-end quality knives.

“It’s worked out. It’s amazing. I feel like a little boy playing with my knives. We’re amazed at how it’s grown. We have people who might stay here 45 or 50 minutes just looking at what we have in the store.”

But Roland’s is more than just a knife shop – the convenience store aspect is still alive, too.

Henry said the store has grown and accepts energy bill payments, sells fishing licenses and also pre-paid phone cards.

“We do a multitude of things here,” Henry said. “And it’s all with the customer in mind. We want our customers to know that we’re here to make things easier for them.”

So with close to 30 years under his belt, Henry said he wants to see the store continue to push forward.

He said no matter how much Roland’s may grow, its basic business values will remain the same.

“We are friendly – our employees like to engage with the customers,” Henry said. “But there’s a balance because a lot of people at a gas station do like to get in and get out in three minutes. So there’s that balance between being friendly and also not holding up the line. We do a good job and I’m proud of our business and our employees.”

Roland’s Klondyke Mini Mart owner Roland Henry shows off some of the knives within his store. With close to three decades in business, Roland’s services people in both Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes who travel along the Bourg-Larose Highway.