Hidden behind crowded Iowa City bars and restaurants lies a haven of unique vintage clothes and art: White Rabbit. The shop does not advertise, but simply uses an eye-catching display of colorful shoes and worn apparel to lure college visitors and anti-mall shoppers alike. By displaying local work from young aspiring artists vintage apparel, The White Rabbit proves to be a rare entity among the college town.
The local venue was formed in December of 2006. After studying Biology for three years in college co-owner Cortnie Widen decided to switch to a more creative outlet: printmaking. Widen began selling her own designs along with local artwork in order to help keep the Iowa City culture alive. “There was more of a focus on local artists 15-20 years ago. That all sort of disappeared. There are a lot of creative people in this town, but not many keep their roots here,” she said.
While paintings and photographs cover the sea foam green walls, it seems as if the clothes posses an art of their own accord. “Basically, we are not selling things bought from China. We are trying to support handmade or reused things that are already out there.” She casually points to a 1950’s dress with a matchbox print. “That type of thing is rare to find,” she smiles. The sales racks primarily range from the early 1960’s to 1990’s. The White Rabbit staff hunts for vintage treasures through online auctions, states sales, and even gladly accept items customers bring in. They eagerly search for pieces with an interesting shape and cut that evokes hanger appeal.
For Cortnie, searching for vintage gems is one of many highlights of her job. “I like being around the creation process. I have always been into clothes and jewelry. It’s fun to have that weird job. I enjoy talking to the people that walk in-I don’t know what else I would rather do.”