Founded on Nov. 1, 2012, the Lucky Rabbit is a store unlike any other. Hundreds, if not thousands, of vintage memorabilia is strewn about the store. From Nintendo Entertainment Systems to a signed and framed picture of Tom Hanks in Castaway, this place has it all. When you walk in the store, it seems as if you’ve just stepped into the warehouse of the TV show American Pickers. You’re overwhelmed by numerous neon signs and general clutter that’s neatly arranged in pods throughout the store. Though it may seem like mostly just cool, old junk, treasures are sure to be found if you look hard enough.
When people come to the Lucky Rabbit for the first time, they are generally overwhelmed and don’t know where to look for things. “Personally, on my first time going in to the Lucky Rabbit, I was instantly transfixed by a plethora of cool old stuff to browse,” Beckett Welsh, University of Southern Mississippi freshman said. “I ended up buying an old Roy Orbison songbook and some MLS soccer cards from the 80s. Even though I had been in the store looking around for a few hours, I don’t think I even scratched the surface on discovering all that was in there.”
The idea for the Lucky Rabbit actually has its roots in Buffalo, Minnesota. Abby Thaxton, owner of the Lucky Rabbit, said, “I had heard of an ‘occasional store’ out in Buffalo, and I thought it had a fabulous concept. I knew I had to bring this concept to Hattiesburg. I wanted it to be in an old building. Not just wanted it to be, the store had to be in an old building.” First opening in a smaller building off East Pine Street, the Lucky Rabbit struggled with the building’s limiting size and its leaking roof. They began searching for a larger venue, eventually finding a vacant building built in the 1920s on Mobile Street which was not for rent at the time. “[The building] had blue tarps over the windows and was forgotten. We approached the building owner with a lease offer and she accepted it! We slowly have grown to what we are today, bringing in 8,000 people on average in four days. I’m so happy we were able to bring the building back to life,” Thaxton said.
The name of the occasional store ties into its origin. “Well, I was watching some of his cartoons from the 1920s, and during one of them Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was in a Five and Dime store. At the time, my concept was a modern day Five and Dime, which has morphed a bit since then. But still. When I saw Oswald in that Five and Dime, it hit me like a ton of bricks. The Lucky Rabbit was the name! Never looked back or second guessed my decision,” Thaxton said. Oswald The Lucky Rabbit was the “Mickey Mouse” of Disney before Mickey Mouse was created, and he greatly resembles Mickey Mouse, except for being a rabbit.
One of Thaxton’s favorite parts about owning the Lucky Rabbit is that it gives her the ability to create. “I get to paint furniture, design store displays and fixtures, design t-shirts and also vignettes for people to envision in their homes.” However, possibly the most important aspect of the Lucky Rabbit is the effect it’s had on the community. “The Lucky Rabbit matters to a lot of people in our community. If we shut the doors tomorrow, people would notice and some of them would miss us. I love the fact that children love our store. I remember making childhood memories in cool stores – like hiding in the clothes racks at a big department store – and I know we are making those kinds of impacts on small children. It’s incredible to me.” said Thaxton.