Would you drive hours from home just to visit a store that employees rabbits? Well it appears some people are going the distance to visit East by West in Eureka Springs AR. Yume Tolle Leavell has been "employing" rabbits in her shop since 2000. Read below for her unique story.
"What puts East by West on the map: the rabbits are not just store mascots, but actually wait on customers at the counter. Leavell has trained them to give customers back their credit cards, give out change in dollar bills, and pass pens, packages and receipts. They take the items from her hand and, turning their heads, putting the items in front of the customer. And they are fast.
"Other stores have rabbits, but none of them work except mine," she said.
Leavell, who opened East by West in 1994, started employing shop bunnies in 2000 after a boyfriend gave her three rabbits. The first to work at the store was Peppermint, who served customers from 2000 to 2007. Peppermint was joined by Pepperoni Pizza, a Siamese Satin who worked until last year.
Now on staff are Tofu, a white Lion Head/Lop mix doe, and three Dutch mix bucks: Snoopy, Junior and Jo-Jo. Two work at Caroline's Collectables, the store Leavell's mother, Loan Tolle, owns in Gaskin Switch Village on Highway 62E.
"They have the free range of the store," she said.
Not all the bunnies are suited for counter sales, Leavell said. Peppermint's son, Frankenstein, who survived a cage accident when he was a week old that required 14 stitches, couldn't make change. But he did like greeting customers and playing pranks, Leavell said.
"He loved to untie shoelaces," she said. "He also liked women's sandals.
One time Frankenstein stood on his hind legs, reached up and unpanted a sales clerk by pulling down her shorts, which were loose, to her and the shoppers' surprise, Leavell said.
Although not always as dramatic, seeing the bunnies at work is number 56 on the Bridgeford House B & B's list of 101 things to do in Eureka Springs (watch squirrels is number 2). And bunny watching not just for children.
"The adults adore them," she said.
Leavell said she doesn't overtax the four-legged staff by having them work the counter for long stretches. Once they serve a customer, the bunnies can go and lounge under the display racks. If the store is busy, Leavell can't always track them down to put on a show. Sometimes the bunnies don't want to work, she said, and get tired, especially on weekends.
"By mid-morning, Tofu is yawning, and wants to take a nap," she said. "They go and hide so I can't find them.""
The article also indicated that many of the bunnies there are rescues!
Check out this video of one of the buns "working" which was also featured on America's Funniest Home Videos!