A native of the Netherlands, Michiel Dop appreciated antiques from a young age, beginning when he and a friend scoured Belgian and French markets for items to sell in his friend's store. This spirit traveled with Dop to Louisiana, when his New Orleanian wife brought Dop home to meet her family. The Magazine Street and Royal Street antique shops inspired him. "[There] was a big opportunity to start a business here," he says.
DOP Antiques and Architecturals (300 Jefferson Highway, 504-373-5132; www.dopantiques.com) — named so "customers know who they're dealing with," Dop says — opened in 2000 and offered its inventory wholesale to dealers and designers. Now the shop sells to the public, and Dop is careful to price fairly. Dop makes frequent trips to Europe to purchase antiques and visit relatives, as well as the friend who started him in the antiques trade. "My best friend is now my main supplier," he says.
Dop carries a mix of antiques and new furniture, along with lighting, mirrors and architectural items likes doors and gates. In addition to monthly shipments of antiques from Europe, Dop Antiques stocks goods from China and India.
When he can't find an item he needs, Dop makes tables, chairs and other pieces from materials like cypress and pine. He finds the process rewarding. "[Sometimes] it's hard to find the right size or style table you're looking for," Dop says. "I might as well make them."
Dop keeps the store up to date by following the interests of young customers as well as European trends. "What happens in Europe happens here," Dop says.
There's fast turnover and a constant flow of new merchandise. At least every four weeks, Dop imports or makes something new. "[It's] always interesting to come in," he says. "There's lots to see and choose from."
Dop says he has learned a lot over the course of his career, thanks to his world travels and hands-on experience with paintings, sculptures and other European artifacts. "[I] can tell where something came from, how old and what style it is," Dop says.
He rents pieces for movie sets, events and parties, but Dop's favorite part of the job is finding pieces he really loves. He fondly remembers waking early to spend the day at markets and waiting three months for the items to come in. "Reliving the memory of the buying experience ... is like Christmas," Dop says.