A dog in a jewelry store might not seem like the best combination at first. But Mickey, a friendly golden retriever, is a welcome fixture at Sterling Silvia's (41 French Market Place, 504-299-9225; 4861 Magazine St., 504-309-5806; http://sterlingsilvia.myshopify.com) Magazine Street location, where fleur-de-lis necklaces, crescent shaped earrings and "Who Dat" helmet rings fill the jewelry cases and line the walls. The 6-year-old golden retriever lies on the doormat, tail wagging, his nose poking out of the cracked door, waiting for customers.
"He makes people happy the minute they walk in," says storeowner Silvia Asturias.
The family has had a dog in their stores for more than 10 years. The Asturias' first dog died two days after being attacked by another dog at the French Quarter location. Heartbroken, the owners knew they wanted another dog right away. They adopted Mickey a couple of months later, but it took about two years for the pup to mature enough to be in the store full time.
Originally from Guatemala, the Asturias trained Mickey in both English and Spanish. Asturias says he listens incredibly well and makes people feel welcome while also providing an element of protection. Once, a drunk man stumbled into the store and was caught off guard when he saw Mickey. He asked if the dog would bite.
"He might," Asturias replied lightheartedly.
Asturias and her husband Juan got their start selling jewelry in the French Market more than 20 years ago. Now they own and operate two stores specializing in sterling silver jewelry.
"My daughter Cristy and I design most of the jewelry, especially everything New Orleans-related," Asturias says. "All of the jewelry has sentimental value."
The original store is across from the French Market, and the second store moved from Toulouse Street to Decatur Street and finally to Magazine Street. That location opened on Black Friday last year.
The owners were happy to celebrate the Magazine Street store's one-year anniversary at the end of November this year. They also are happy to have Mickey along for the ride because he's such an important part of their family business.
"Mickey's at the door every day waiting for the customers," Asturias says. "Our dog has always complemented the human factor in our business. It's not about money — it's about people."
My Favorite Things ...
Going for walks
Getting treats at the bank drive-through
Playing with kids in the store