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When you walk into Fairy (5715 Magazine St., 269-2033), it's likely you will be greeted, not by one of its namesake mythical creatures, but by an equally impish and lively character named Toulouse. The 2-year-old French bulldog, resident shop dog at Fairy, is as popular with customers as the clothing and accessories that owner Elizabeth Laird sells. And unlike most retail therapy, a warm encounter with Toulouse's 27 pounds of unabashed, frisky friendliness doesn't cost a thing. "I wanted a French bulldog since the early '90s when my husband and I saw one in Paris in a pet shop," says Laird, who received Toulouse as a Valentine's Day gift in 2005. "He loves people, and gets so excited. He wants to be the greeter."

Toulouse, who likes to find a patch of sun near the front door where he can keep a watchful eye out for the UPS truck and who entertains customers by rolling over and smiling like a Cheshire cat, is a fitting mascot for a store that doesn't take itself too seriously. Its whimsical name was taken from a brand of English dishwashing liquid, and its inventory of girly, retro looks — and jewelry and handbags by local designers — is ideal for anyone in need of a good, lighthearted shopping buzz.

A native New Orleanian with 20 years of retail experience, Laird fills Fairy with things she loves — jeans, flirty tops and dresses, easy pants, cropped jackets, delicate necklaces and earrings, vintage-inspired hats and shoes — and markets them to working women in search of pretty pieces that make the transition from day to night.

Toulouse's antics are a nice bit of lagniappe to round out the Fairy experience. "They're known as the little clowns," says Laird of the infectiously jaunty breed, which was popularized by Parisian prostitutes and artists during the 1920s. "They will show off to get attention. They will jump in the air, fall down and roll over. They're really cheeky."

my

favorite things ...

Black leather collar I got for Christmas

cheese

Snuggling with Rexie (Laird's son)

Taking Walks

Snoozing on the red chaise lounge at Fairy

My Best Friend Joe (Laird's gray Tabby)

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