In the market for a warthog head to mount on your wall? How about a vintage gremlin doll? Or a century-old vibrator? At Rainy Day Revival, an oddities shop in Little Five Points, these are just a few of the strange items artfully displayed throughout the store, which is like an antique shop on steroids.
Its founders, artist Jeremy Gibbs and interior designer Kim Gibbs, didn’t start out trying to feed Atlantans’ desires for weirdness. Rainy Day Revival began in 2018 when Jeremy and Kim decided to remodel their house, which was filled with the novelties Jeremy has been obsessed with ever since he glimpsed the two-headed calf at the Georgia Capitol Museum during a middle school field trip. “I’ve always made art and, ever since I was a kid, gone hunting and finding things in the woods,” he says. Jeremy’s art appears throughout the store. There’s a stack of toilet prints for sale, inspired by his former work as a plumber.
Rainy Day’s first location was in Chamblee, where they sold things like taxidermied two-headed cows and ceramic clowns. “We started getting a lot of business from the film industry for prop rentals,” Jeremy says. Then, in 2021, when property opened up in L5P, they moved Rainy Day there and kept the Chamblee location for exhibits and rentals, renaming it Obscure Prop House.
It was a homecoming of sorts. When they were teenagers, Jeremy and Kim used to hang out at L5P’s Junkman’s Daughter. “I felt perfectly safe down there and in my element, where I could talk with likeminded people. And where my artistic tastes were not only welcomed by other people but encouraged,” Jeremy says. “We want to be welcoming to the people who are into the weird stuff. As a teenager, at home, it wasn’t welcomed.” That’s why they sell “affordable things that are still weird . . . like plushies and toys and buttons,” Jeremy says. The store is a family affair; their dog and 10-year-old son sometimes come with them to work (“There are some times where I think he thinks we’re crazy,” Kim says).
On an August day, Kim meets me at the store in a Rainy Day T-shirt and jeans, and introduces me to her employee Qate Bean, a puppeteer clad in mushroom-print overalls. Jeremy joins on the phone because he’s transporting their traveling exhibit, “A Cryptic Collection of a Mad Clown.” (A permanent Atlanta museum is in the works.)
Rainy Day is roughly divided into themed sections: funeral equipment in one corner, vintage dental drills in another, and octopuses in formaldehyde neatly lined up on one shelf, while taxidermy—from a unicorn butt to a pronghorn head—hangs on the wall among pinned butterflies. A pterodactyl model, Jeremy’s favorite piece, dangles from the ceiling.
Kim and Bean walk me to a glass display case and gesture to a human fetus and a two-headed turtle. “These are items that come from the oddities museum that are not for sale. One, because you can’t really sell some of these things, and, two, they’re just so invaluable,” Kim says. Small placards explain their historical significance.
Other startling items on display include taxidermied dogs. Kim and Jeremy say that during the Victorian era, such items were common for wealthy people. “They didn’t have cameras . . . So what better way to keep Fido around than stuffing him?” Kim says.
Jeremy doesn’t give me much detail about where his stock of oddities comes from, aside from saying he’s “built a network” of suppliers. “I search high and low, mostly low,” he says.
Bean says that they are very careful about where they acquire “wet” specimens, like the octopuses. “There’s one guy who seems to emerge from the woods and tries to bring us all these wet specimens, and we’re like, Dude, we’re not sure where you got these,” Bean says.
Bean says she has been most surprised by the type of customers who shop there. Last year two conservatively dressed women entered, and she expected them to be unnerved. “But then they start telling me about the mortuary business that they run, and they’re getting all into talking about embalming,” Bean says.
Embalmers and mortuary workers are regular customers, as are dentists who buy vintage equipment, Kim says. And they’re not just buying products to display. “We’ve sold embalming fluid pumps to morticians for them to use,” Jeremy says.
After Jeremy gets off the call, Bean takes a “cursed” Kewpie doll down from behind the counter. A man bought the doll from the store and returned it hours later, Bean says. “Apparently in those two hours, a great deal of misfortunes befell him, and he felt sure it was because of this Kewpie doll,” she says. They decided it would be unethical to resell it, so they stuck it in a box. “A day of it being in this box, and then the head just started melting,” Bean says.
The Kewpie doll was a rare occurrence. What Bean is more concerned about is customers looking after their purchases. “I tell people when they buy something that they have now become the steward of its preservation, and you are keeping care of this little piece of history,” Bean says.
This article appears in our November 2023 issue.