Much of what you'll find at La Belle Nouvelle Orleans (2112 Magazine St., 581-3733; www.labellenouvelleorleans.com) is imported. Husband and wife owners Natalia and Fernando Promoslovsky stock their Magazine Street store with an abundance of antiques and architectural items from their native Argentina and from Europe. Yet it's a homegrown attraction the couple's 3-year-old English Labrador retriever, Sammy that brings in a substantial number of their customers. "Fifty percent of people see him from outside and then come in," says Natalia. "Everyone loves him. He greets every single person who comes into the store."
The Promoslovskys opened their Garden District shop six years ago. Three years later, they purchased Sammy from a Northshore breeder, and before long, he was initiated into the world of antiques. "He's a working dog," says Natalia. "He knows that every day he comes to the store. In the morning, when it's time to go, he looks for his leash."
"He's my other partner," says Fernando, a third-generation antiques dealer following in both his father's and grandfather's footsteps. "The neighbors laugh when they see us leave in the morning. They call him the dog with the job."
In addition to greeting customers, Sammy's duties include playing with the mailman a daily, five-minute routine that both he and the mailman eagerly embrace and testing out the long-term comfort and durability of a favorite Louis XVI settee conveniently located in a sunny spot near the front door.
"He doesn't care that it's expensive," says Natalia. "It's near the air conditioning and heat." When not lounging or acting as goodwill ambassador, Sammy often plays in the yard at the rear of the store where he can accompany customers perusing the plentiful selection of wrought-iron gates, concrete corbels, columns and doors or beyond it in the sizeable warehouse that houses additional inventory.
Last fall, the Promoslovskys opened Circa Antiques (323 Chartres St., 529-1386), a French Quarter store specializing in 18th and 19th century European antiques. On-line shoppers can view and purchase some of their pieces on Ebay. Only La Belle Nouvelle Orleans, however, comes with Sammy's playful presence and winning charm.
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