Inside an 18,000-square-foot showroom in Metairie, where sofas, chairs, artwork and knickknacks are on display, a spry Maltese scampers to greet guests as they enter. Prince, whose full name is Sir Prince Phillips, spends his days at Renaissance Interiors (2727 Edenborn Ave., Metairie, 504-454-3320; www.yourrenaissance.com) with his owner Wendy Phillips, an employee of the shop.
Renaissance Interiors, which has been open for more than 10 years, carries home furnishings, primarily through consignment. Co-owner Dennis Mann recognized a need for the business when he had trouble selling an unwanted set of expensive high-quality couches. They weren't antiques, so he couldn't sell them to an antique shop, and since he lived in a gated community, getting people to his house to see the couches was difficult. He assumed there were plenty of other people out there with similar dilemmas, and that led Dennis and his wife Sibel to create the shop.
Dennis, Sibel and Dennis' brother Larry still run the business. With its massive showroom and ever-changing selection, Renaissance has something for many tastes and budgets. The longer a consignment item is there, the lower the price goes. With constantly changing prices and new items arriving daily, the store receives many repeat customers. "We have around 1,000 customers who come in ... at least two times a week," Dennis says. Renaissance also works with set designers to supply furnishings for local film productions.
Customers look forward to seeing Prince, who has been at Renaissance for about a year-and-a-half and has become part of the shopping experience. He runs to greet people with a friendly bark and a wag of his tail. Prince loves to play fetch and tug of war with employees and customers with his favorite plush toy. He'll sometimes take a breather by snuggling up with a customer who is trying out a chair.
Prince arrives every morning with lots of "pep and vinegar," Dennis says, but like many workers, he falls victim to that 2:30 p.m. slump and naps for a while. He has his favorite spots (in front of the door and on the checkout counter), but he likes to sample the various seating options the store has to offer. Wendy likens him to Goldilocks as he tries each chair and sofa until he finds one that is just right. But Prince doesn't slack off too much.
"I tell him he better do a good job, because I have two replacements at home," Larry says, chuckling as he shows off a photo of his two pups.
Many customers ask if Prince is for sale, and one customer didn't ask at all before walking out of the store with him. Fortunately, the owner of a neighboring business saw Prince later and made sure he was returned to his rightful owner.
The way Wendy sees it, Prince belongs to everyone at Renaissance. "He's everyone's dog," Wendy says. "Prince adds a sense of home and warmth to being at work. We are all a big family."
My Favorite Things
Rare roast beef
My dog-shaped squishy toy