The Lucky Rabbit, dubbed the “Happiest Place in Hattiesburg” by its owners, opened its doors to the city yet again Feb. 7 until Feb.10. An antique store with a nostalgic twist, the Lucky Rabbit is one of downtown Hattiesburg’s biggest attractions.
Founded by Abby and Brandon Thaxton, husband and wife, the store came to be after their experience at a similar store called Secondhand Rose in Minnesota. Inspired by what they saw, the Lucky Rabbit made its grand opening on March 16, 2012.
Located in the abandoned Hawkins Hardware building in downtown Hattiesburg, the Lucky Rabbit is opened for only four days each month, which allows the owners time to come up with new ideas for what the theme of the store will be when it reopens the following month.
“My wife Abby, the co-owner, is the one who comes up with the ideas. Generally, it goes by the season or whatever is going on,” co-owner Brandon Thaxton explained.
“Spring is right around the corner, so she came up with the idea to have a Volkswagen beetle with flowers coming out of it. Next month, she’s likely to continue the spring theme and have something new on display in the store,” Thaxton said.
When customers step inside the building, their eyes will immediately be drawn to half of a VW beetle on display in the lobby. Though rusted, placed inside the trunk is a collection of plants intended to play up the spring season.
Variety is the keyword at the Lucky Rabbit. Although the store sells antique items and other goods, the feeling of nostalgia permeates throughout the store. As old music blares throughout the building, a person’s eyes are drawn to signs all over the place and to TV monitors that play old commercials on constant rotation. Arcade games and old video game consoles dominate the lower left-hand corner of the building.
“We try to tap into nostalgic things that someone who’s either 12 years old or 90 years old can relate to. When we’re out shopping and looking for interesting stuff to add to the building, we try to find items people resonate with,” Thaxton said.
The Lucky Rabbit is an interesting name for a business dedicated to selling antique goods and reminding people of the past. Thaxton explained that it’s partly due to trying to give the place an interesting name, but also because it’s a nickname for an old cartoon character.
“The building was built in the ‘20s, and there was a cartoon from around that time called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit,” Thaxton said. “There’s an episode where he’s trapped in a thrift store, and because of the situation in the short and his name, we decided to go with that name. ‘The’ was added to the name because the domain ‘Lucky Rabbit’ was already taken.”
The Lucky Rabbit has exploded in popularity over the past few years. Initially only bringing in a few hundred customers, the number has increased into the thousands. Right now, Thaxton and his wife are concerned with maintaining the store, rather than trying to expand it.
Previously, Brandon and Abby owned Computer Karma, a local computer repair business, but as the Lucky Rabbit grew, their focus shifted to running that store, rather than trying to juggle two businesses at the same time.
“We have discussed doing something on the coast, but right now, the business requires so much of Abby and I. It’s not something that cannot be replicated or duplicated easily because there are so many working and moving parts. There is a team of people and vendors, but getting the store ready each month is 100 percent Abby and I,” Brandon explained.
The success of the Lucky Rabbit has not deterred similar business, such as Marketplace Antiques and Collectibles on Highway 49. Gary Perry, the store’s owner, says his store and the Lucky Rabbit cater to different types of people.
“My store sells old stuff—junk—while the other place is more of an arts-and-crafts type of business,” Perry elaborated. “In my store, you can find books, furniture, movies and much more, whereas the selection of items at the Lucky Rabbit isn’t as varied, but I still think it’s a great business.”
Hattiesburg resident Joe Henderson says businesses like the Lucky Rabbit and Marketplace Antiques benefit one another. “It’s a symbiotic relationship,” Henderson said. “Those who shop at an antique store tend to find items they can resale at a place like the Lucky Rabbit.”
“The best way to see it is how a Burger King is always built: next to or across from a McDonald’s,” Henderson said. “The two restaurants offer different selections which appeal to different kinds of people. If you’re more interested in antiques, then a place like Marketplace is better suited for you, but if you want more recent items, then you go to the Lucky Rabbit,” Henderson said.
The Lucky Rabbit will open and re-open throughout the month of March. It is scheduled to open again on March 3, re-open March 7-10 and again on March 30.
photo courtesy Lucky Rabbit on Facebook