Over the last three months, Jessica Derouchie and Natali Branwell have learned a lot about DIY remodeling, gutting the inside of their new antique shop, ripping out the walls and ceiling and recycling it into bookshelves and countertop space.
All that work comes as the two friends and longtime antique enthusiast became the new co-owners of Wild Hare Antiques at the end of March. After the hefty remodel the duo finally welcomed shoppers to the newly redesigned space for the first time last week.
“Wild Hare has been a staple that people want to see continue so it was just filling the shoes of the previous owners and going from there,” Branwell said. “It’s been kinda crazy.”
Opened back in 2014 by Joey MacArthur and Tami Smith, Wild Hare was originally in a small red building a block from the Meadowbrook Way, Railroad Avenue intersection. In 2015, the shop moved to its current location in the heart of downtown.
The most recent owners, Iya and Norman Brown, who took over the shop in 2017, announced at the beginning of the year that they would be retiring and set to close Wild Hare’s doors at the end of March.
But, in a serendipitous moment, just a day before the shop was set to close, Derouchie and Branwell walked in after seeing the shop online, met the Browns, and inked a deal to secure the name and building.
“We had been looking for an antique store or a space for a store and it just kinda happened upon us at the last minute,” Derouchie said. Branwell said that they had seen the Browns had been selling the space months ago, but finally “took the leap.”
Derouchie, whose grandparents owned an antique store in Pennsylvania, said she always enjoyed searching for vintage items with her mom – a tradition she now continues with her own daughter.
“My daughter and I love to go and find treasures,” she said. “That’s all we do in our free time.”
Derouchie met Branwell while they were both working in construction. Together the two spent their spare time shopping and searching for unique finds – including occasional cross-county flights.
That was when they realized that they didn’t want to work in construction anymore, Derouchie said, and began setting up booths at events to sell antiques. Eventually they ended up having a small space in Sumner, inside of another store.
“We wanted to enjoy what we do and what better way than to shop for cool stuff?” Derouchie said. “We did a few shows and started with a booth in another store and then realized we wanted to do more and be able to do it full time and do it our way.”
That desire paved the way for them to acquire Wild Hare. While the two plan to continue Wild Hare’s legacy, they also have plans for new additions to the store, including an online store, collaborations with local artists and potentially a small cafe.
“We’re excited to see what’s going to happen and how the community responds,” Branwell said.
Even without being open the store has continued to attract visitors looking to help preserve the space. During one weekend of the renovation, the shop had 15 people volunteer to help haul away junk.
“It was pretty awesome to have the whole community just be like ‘yes we want you to be open,’” Derouchie said. “They helped us for days and days and they just kept coming back.”