Gail and Gary Miller both had the “antique bug” for most of their adult lives – but not necessarily anyone with which to share their passion for fine, old things. To hear Gail tell it, that changed at a visit to a flea market during one of their first dates.
“We found we were often attracted to the same styles and we held the same respect for the history we were holding in our hands. I remember Gary telling me thank you and being thrilled that we were both having some much fun at a flea market,” Gail said.
Gary adds, “I never really had anyone who would go to these things with me or understood the whole ‘antiquing thing.’ Gail did and pretty soon we were frequenting auctions and antique stores across the Midwest together.”
The passion for antiques and history helped build their relationship and it has now led to two businesses – Rabbittown Antiques and Artisans as well as Rabbittown Trade Center.
Both are natives of East Central Illinois. Gary is a lifelong resident of Danville and Gail grew up in Fisher and moved to Danville in 2002. Growing up, Gail said her mother instilled in her a love of old things by telling her the stories behind the antiques in their old farm house, many of them family heirlooms. As a construction contractor, Gary became involved from time to time in restoring some of Danville’s beautiful older homes. Gary is a past member of the board of the Vermilion Heritage Foundation and continues to volunteer to restore and maintain the Fischer Theater.
Gail and Gary really got to know one another while they both worked at Crosspoint Human Services. What really brought them together was working on the agency’s historic renovation of the Holland Apartments, now called the New Holland Apartments. Gail’s work at Crosspoint involved her in the agency’s affordable housing work and Gary managed the renovations at the New Holland.
It’s really no surprise that after they were married in 2009, they began to discuss pursuing a business revolving around antiques and local artisans. The idea occurred to them to build on the past efforts people have put forth to re-energize and re-build some of Danville’s old historic neighborhoods. The building that has become “Rabbittown” caught their eye and the rest has been a lot of sweat equity. Within two years of the store’s opening, Gail and Gary were hard at work rehabbing the old ‘Great Scott’ building on College Street, just a short walk away from the Rabbittown store.
Eventually they would like to put more of the building to use as an architectural salvage center and a consignment furniture store.
Gail, a licensed clinical social worker, is now taking a break from that career and operates Rabbittown full-time. Gary continues to work at Crosspoint and Marlee, one of his three children – her brothers are James and Josh – has been a big help in the remodel of Rabbitown’s showroom. From time to time, shoppers may also encounter the four-legged family member, Harley, whose box on the organization chart reads “shop dog.”
Gail and Gary hope you will stop by and visit Rabbittown Antiques and Artisans and join them at an auction sometime at the Trade Center. Over time they hope to build a business that showcases really neat stuff from yesterday and the best things being made by Danville’s artisans of today. At the same time, they hope their business – and maybe yours someday – will help revitalize one of Danville’s oldest districts.