When I was growing up in the 1950s, my father took me to visit a place on Tulane Avenue that sold mated pairs of chinchillas. Because the heat and humidity in New Orleans seem to discourage wearing fur coats, I wondered if chinchilla breeding was a scam or a short-term fad in New Orleans.
There was a time in the 1950s and '60s when breeding chinchillas for fun and quick profit seemed like a good idea, given the fact that chinchillas breed like — well, chinchillas.
The first New Orleans chinchilla store opened in 1953 at 3233 Tulane Ave. It offered high-quality breeding stock and personal instructions for new breeders.
In the 1950s, a company called the Aristo-Blue Chinchilla National Co-operative at 1763 Airline Hwy. told locals that raising chinchillas was a profitable, interesting and convenient business. Its booklet for investors touted how easily a person could enter the chinchilla industry right in their own home, garage or other location with limited space.
Also in the 1950s, there was a chinchilla ranch on Patterson Drive in Algiers operated by Stanley Rainey and Starke Hunter.