New curio shop opens on south Massachusetts Street with everything from collectibles to shrunken heads

Maybe the sequel to “Driving Miss Daisy” will take place in Lawrence with my F150. A new vintage shop on south Massachusetts Street could make it possible.

Yes, this needs more explanation. A new antique and curio store called Whizzbang has opened at 1828 Massachusetts St., right next door to Cottin’s Hardware. Sitting outside Whizzbang’s front door on most days is an approximately 3-foot-tall doll named Daisy. Indeed, she has a driving history.

“We got her from an estate sale,” said Gretchen Wilson, one of the owners of Whizzbang. “The grandmother required the grandfather to take Daisy in the car with him whenever the grandmother couldn’t ride with him.”

Beats me. I’m hoping an explanation is part of the plot to the sequel, although somebody else may beat me to the punch. Daisy is for sale along with everything from antique furniture to old tools to an almost endless number of curios.

Wilson, though, may have a hard time parting with Daisy. She calls her the store mascot and said she has plans to turn the prim and proper doll into a “hippie chick.” Yes, it is that type of store.

“I sold the hamburger phone, so that is gone,” Wilson said when asked for examples of some of the store’s more unique items. “Oh, but we still do have a shrunken head.”

Wilson said the shop — which is in the space that previously housed Performance Tire & Wheel — is a “crossbreed between vintage, retro and rusty crusty.”

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Wilson is one of five co-owners — with Matt Woodward, Davy Byrne, Catherine Burgos and Mitch Rorabaugh — who scour estate sales, storage locker auctions and other such events looking for unique items. Not all the items are funky. Wilson noted the store had a blue-ribbon quilt as part of its inventory, a 1950’s style diner booth, clothing wall hangings and a good amount of memorabilia and other items that collectors covet.

The business had space near the Warehouse Arts District in East Lawrence, but needed to find new space. The visibility of a Massachusetts Street location was appealing. Some of you may remember that the old tire and wheel shop had a pair of famous owners. KU basketball coach Bill Self and former KU and NBA player Scot Pollard led a group that owned the building. Whatever plans the duo had for the building apparently have changed because the property has been sold to a Topeka group, and Wilson said, as far she knows, neither Self nor Pollard has any involvement in the building.

Regardless, Wilson said business has been good at the new location, which is only open noon to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and sometimes on Sunday. She said the owners have long believed Lawrence residents are interested in a shop that has a funkier vibe than a traditional antique shop or mall.

“I think it is just a more intimate, unique selection than what you’ll find at an (antique) mall,” Wilson said. “Lawrence is a great town for it. We’ve had a lot of support, especially from this neighborhood.”


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