Pearson’s Luggage and Gifts hopes to become Baton Rouge’s ‘backpack headquarters’ with launch of its own line

    Pearson’s Luggage and Gifts is launching its own brand of specially designed backpacks. Called Southern Authority, the packs are set to arrive at the Jefferson Highway store next week as Pearson’s looks to reclaim market share in the backpack business.

    “We lost a lot of our customer base because a lot of people are moving into The North Face brand and we can’t get it in our stores,” Pearson says. “This way, though, by building our own brand we can control the distribution and the price. We built it to represent the South and quality. We want to expand it into more hiking-type packs, too.”

    The backpacks were designed with the latest generation’s penchant for technology in mind, and they come complete with laptop and tablet sleeves, a cellphone pocket and other expandable pockets, says Ned Pearson, vice president of Pearson’s and co-founder of AudioBomb.

    “We are hoping to become the backpack headquarters with several different brands, but Southern Authority is going to be the main push,” Pearson says. “We already sell a lot of backpacks at Pearson. Before JanSport was the backpack of choice, but they are getting less popular.”

    Pearson says he created a focus group of consisting of his nieces, nephews and their friends to come up with a new backpack. With local graphic designer Chanler Holden, they designed three types of backpacks with eight different color schemes. Pearson then found a manufacturer to make the backpacks—a process similar to when he created AudioBomb’s specialty line of headphones and speakers.

    The backpacks have an outdoorsy look to them, and each model is named after a tree native to Louisiana. They run from $69.99 to $99.99, but Pearson says the store will offer 20% discount on Southern Authority bags if customers trade in their gently used backpacks. Pearson’s will donate the trade-ins to an organization supporting underprivileged children, he says.

    —Deanna Narveson

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